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A Brown Note is a sensory input that is inherently harmful. Exactly how it works is left up to the imagination of the writer. In older works, especially the classic myths that codified the trope, this was almost always supernatural, typically a curse or strange spell. More modern or "grounded" works will try to pass it off as psychological.

Named for the urban legend about an audio tone that, when played, causes the listener to lose control of their bowels and spontaneously defecate.

Usually, we don't get to see or hear it ourselves, for obvious reasons.

See also Black Speech for inherently evil languages, which may overlap with this for people who aren't evil enough. A Brown Note is a common trait of Eldritch Abominations, due to how mind-breakingly alien they are. The nastiest forms of this also force their victims to propagate them, overlapping with Mind Virus. Not to be confused with the real-life "Brown noise", which is completely harmless and sounds a bit like a poorly maintained air conditioner. Compare Suckiness Is Painful.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Read or Die OVA revolves around a symphony that causes anyone who listens to it to become suicidally depressed. The villains' plan is to broadcast it around the world and wipe out the weak-minded. To spare the viewers such a fate, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" is played.
    • The manga also contains a scene where two captives are tortured with the audio version of The Dark Abyss, a book bound in human flesh and printed by five different people, one page at a time, so they wouldn't succumb to it. The pair withstood the audiobook for some 4 minutes before caving.
  • An interesting plot from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (the episode "escape from"); a cybernetic puzzle box is discovered that traps the mind of anyone who cybernetically links to it. The intruder is placed in a virtual environment of an old fashioned theater, along with the trapped minds of those that came before. Playing is a certain obscure director's last film, which he never shot, which contains images so profoundly emotional, that intruders never want to leave, only remain and watch the film. Notoriously unemotional Major Kusanagi is trapped by the device, and at the climax of the film, she actually cries. As for what the image was, the show viewer can't see it, but Take Our Word for It. The device turns out to be the director's own brain, encased in the GITS universe's cybernetic equivalent to a drive enclosure for gray matter. The interesting part was that the director had no evil ulterior motive or anything...the movie was just that good that anyone who watched it would want to keep watching it forever; the perfect movie. Motoko ultimately tells him that she admits it's very good, but even the best of TV and film is no substitute for Real Life.
    • This incidentally may be a subtle demonstration of psychic powers at play, since the idea of a brain-case abducting Ghosts of other people contradicts the internal logic of the series at many levels.
    • This also turned out to be how the terrorist group The Individual Eleven recruited in 2nd Gig. A series of documents that contain the group's manifesto are scattered across the Net. If a person of suitable personality and physical qualifications reads all eleven in order, a cybernetic meme is unleashed that turns them into a fanatical soldier for the Eleven. People who don't fit in the mold demonstrate different kinds of personality shifts, like the reporter who became obsessed with the refugee issue, but never acted on his own right, until the virus drove him to commit suicide, or the old professor, who simply took interest in the literary value of the imaginary manuscript, without getting a single radical idea out of it.
  • The Chapter Black tape from YuYu Hakusho reportedly contains hours upon hours of humanity's worst deeds, and just watching it for five minutes can turn anyone into a Straw Nihilist as their respect for humanity drops to rock bottom. It's mentioned that the tape is part of a set with Chapter White, which contains all the greatest acts of human kindness and compassion. Koenma even says Chapter Black is a "One sided argument", and both tapes are apparently about the same length. In fact, neither one is really meant to be watched without the viewer watching the other one simultaneously.
  • Kyon of Haruhi Suzumiya uploads a club logo created by Haruhi onto their website...which just happens to be a data-compressed meme that infects the minds of observers and uses them to revive a long-dormant "digital cave cricket". Kyon disarms it by changing the "SOS" logo into a "ZOZ".
    • In the Drama CD, Haruhi creates the musical equivalent, which had to be defeated by The Power of Rock. At the end of the CD, while the Ear Worm properties of the tune had been excised, Haruhi goes on to come up with the dance version of this. Kyon warns the audience to avert their eyes if they see it, even though he thinks it's already too late.
  • In Madlax, the words "Elda Taluta" and others bring to life parts of a person's psyche that are buried within; only a handful can hear these and not go insane. And god help you if you read the books that these words come from.
  • Played with in Detective School Q. The "Banquet of Evil" violin solo drives a violinist into increasing insanity as soon as he hears it, and it's mentioned that a mysterious person is forcing three other people to hear it as well through cellphone calls. The reason? It was the favorite musical piece of a brilliant player who was incapacitated and killed herself... after an horrible trap staged by the other four. Who end up murdered by the girl's fellow violinist and boyfriend. And had he not done it, they would've died at the hands of the girl's vengeful half-sister.
  • Several episodes of Pokémon featured a Jigglypuff who didn't seem to know its own strength. Its singing would put anyone who heard it - human and Pokémon alike - to sleep, and with amplification equipment, once did so to a whole city. Every time this happened, it got upset because it thought no-one was listening to it, and marked up the sleepers' faces with a magic marker!
  • In The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, one story was about our Five-Man Band investigating a certain railway crossing with an unusually high suicide rate. It seems to have to do with a suicide song played near the tracks, until they go there and discover that the music is an accidental combination of the railroad warning signal, the school chime and the tune played by the recycling truck, which makes people want to die.
  • Hunter × Hunter briefly mentions the Sonata of Darkness, said to have been written by Satan himself and includes parts for different instruments. Just listening to a few notes of the flute solo was enough to horribly deform the Music Hunter Melody Senritsu (it also gave her music based powers though). Her friend that actually played it died horribly.
  • In Shotaro Ishinomori's manga, tokusatsu and anime series Kikaider, the Big Bad Professor Gill has a flute that allows him to control his robotic creations. The flute affects Jiro/Kikaider as well: because of his incomplete conscience circuit, the flute's sound causes him physical pain and also sends him into a brainwashed rage. Only after he transforms into his "Kikaider" form does the flute not affect him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, although not really a bad thing, Ed sees "the Truth" after attempting to perform a human transmutation on his mother at the very beginning of the series and, along with learning a good deal of alchemic knowledge, is able to perform alchemy without a circle, something only those who have also seen the "Truth" can do. Al also ends up seeing the "Truth" later on and gains this ability as well.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun has a primary plotline which revolves around this trope. The "Level Upper" is a sound that connects the espers through a neural network simulating a very powerful supercomputer. The "Level Upper" has the positive side effect of temporarily increasing an esper's powers, but later causes them to universally lapse into a coma, and then go berserk when they awaken.
    • Similarly, Capacity Down is a sound that shuts down esper powers. Non-espers find the sound annoying but harmless, while espers can barely stand up straight when listening to it.
    • The second season of A Certain Magical Index has Index getting surrounded by armed nuns. She responds with a song that subconsciously exposes all the supposed contradictions of Christianity to every believer in range, instantly incapacitating all of her attackers, who writhe on the ground screaming in agony. The second wave responds by everyone taking out a pair of fountain pens and stabbing themselves in the ears to deafen themselves so that the song won't affect them.
  • One episode of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has The Man Behind the Man of Galactor compose "Murder Music #1", a rock song that can drive people insane and shatter buildings when played from the Mecha Of The Week.
  • Violinist of Hameln runs almost entirely on this trope, flavored with Rule of Cool, Refuge in Audacity and copious amounts of crack. But what else can you say for a series whose entire premise is that the heroes use magical music to beat evil up (and to beat each other up, they're rather dysfunctional)...?
  • Not a major plot element but once in a while there is mention of a whistle that is about the only thing to harm Kamen no Maid Guy's Kogarashi. (First and last episode, actually)
    • Kogarashi's MEIDO GUY FREEZE VOICE, which renders most people unable to move for 30 minutes.
  • Played for laughs on a national scale in this clip from Kujibiki Unbalance.
  • Hakko from Canaan has the ability to kill people with her voice, but whenever she speaks or sings it sounds perfectly normal. The audience only hears how she perceives her voice herself, rather than the people affected by it.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou at one point has the heroine put into a coma by the cursed kin; due to the extra string, the music produced by said instrument caused disorder in the souls of whoever heard it, killing them. Exorcising the ghost of the first victim who continued playing and causing deaths still required a specific person to play the kin and die in the process. Eisen finds a way around it by playing the kin under water, reducing the sound to a non-lethal strength — and he still gets injured by it.
  • The powerful human and crow tengu of Japan Tengu Party Illustrated have only one real weakness: seeing a "real" tengu, a large seemingly flightless bird causes instant DePowering. This is due to the tengu's view that they are unique supernatural beings, and discovering that their legend is based on a real animal completely shatters their powers.
  • In Naruto, the character Tayuya has one of these: Her weapon of choice is a flute, with which she can control these three creepy puppet corpses. Specific notes cause them to move in certain ways, one in particular causes the corpses to emit chakra devouring soul.. mouth worm things. However, her real kicker comes in the form of a melody, which simply hearing causes the victim to fall into an illusion in which they appear to be strung up by wires as the skin melts off their bones.
  • In one chapter of Sgt. Frog, Keroro manages to disable Natsumi by whispering something in her ear. Fuyuki later asks Natsumi what he said to her, but Natsumi only replies "Do you want to get this book banned?"
    • Also, it's revealed Kururu can use his headphones to generate a sonic attack that broadcasts the target's least favorite sound (nails on a chalkboard, pieces of styrofoam being rubbed together, etc.) right into their brain.
  • The titular RahXephon and the D-1 Dolems that appear throughout the series can sing in such horrific ways that things around them explode, disintegrate, or cease to exist. It gets worse when they start doing harmonies or descants with more than one in the area.
  • Wunder X's music in Weiß Kreuz causes people to go insane and kill themselves.
  • The songs of the mermaids of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch are beautiful to listen to but hurt people with an evil heart to the point of death.
  • Gintama: In episode 50, Sougo's pitch on how to improve the show comes as an extended guttural noise that drives everyone crazy.
  • Dimitri from Kurobara Alice is a tenor who acquires this power after being turned into a vampire. He accidentally kills his own audience, to start.
  • In Soul Eater, Crona wrote a poem that causes anyone who reads it to wish they'd never been born, or, in their zombie teacher's case, that he'd never been brought back to life.
  • In Guilty Crown, there is a sound that causes dormant stages of the Apocalypse Virus to grow rapidly, crystallizing and killing the victim in less than five seconds. While Inori describes it as a song, it sounds like anything but.
  • In the second, anime-only season of Black Butler, there is an episode where all the main characters attend a ball hosted by Alois Trancy. At the party, one of Alois' demons Hannah plays an instrument much like an armonica that possesses those who hear its song. Sebastian counteracts the music with an accompaniment on some water-filled wineglasses.
  • In Fairy Tail, the Death Magic of the flute Lullaby kills any who hear its song.
  • In The Case Files of Yakushiji Ryoko, the Ultrasonic Bug case involves an insect whose cry drives humans to suicide when heard through a cell phone. And they seem to be a natural Japanese species, not some genetically engineered weapon.
  • In Toriko, one of Zebra's most dangerous and draining voice-based attacks has him modulating the frequency of his voice to instantly kill anyone who hears it. The art depicts this as a massive Grim Reaper like entity. Zebra himself claims, that he does that by mimicking sound of the Grim Reaper's footsteps.
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer! A picture that Shiba Miki sends to Maou, Ashiya and Lucifer of her in Hawaii dressed in a bikini, has the effect of placing anyone who sees it into a temporary Go Mad from the Revelation moment. If you've seen her before, whatever you do...DON'T THINK ABOUT IT.
  • This is the entire plot point of the anime Suite Pretty Cure ♪. There's a special song in Major Land called the "Melody of Happiness" that, when sung, brings great joy and bliss. But, when the notes are rearranged, it creates the Melody of Sorrow, which plunges everyone who listens to it into despair. Its our heroines' job to make sure the latter doesn't happen.
  • Naga's Noblewoman's Laugh is the ultimate brown note in the Slayers universe; heard from any distance it's been known to drive entire cities into raw panic, children crying, adults running, and little old ladies crouching at every shrine they can find begging to make it stop.
  • The Hating Girl has a couple relating to the main female character, Asumi.
    • Asumi has an arrow all the way through her head, which causes grief for both her and others. At one point she accidentally runs the arrow's point along the windows of a school room, bringing everyone around her to their knees in the same manner as nails on a chalkboard.
    • Her friend Ryouji has a handful of things that cause him to panic, and bugs are one, specifically drone beetles. Thus, it's hard for him to hear Asumi yell out that she's lower than a drone beetle when she's apologizing.
  • Weather Report from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has weather-controlling powers. After he regains his memories, his hate gives him a power to create rainbows. Said rainbows contain subliminal messaging, which turns any creature, that sees or interacts with them into a snail (although it's not clear, whether snail transformations were real or just an illisions).
    • There's also Rohan Kishibe's Stand, Heaven's Door, which takes effect if anyone looks at his manga (even if it's drawn in the air), turning them into books that he can read and edit to control their memories and actions.
  • In Dissolving Classroom, the dark energy produced by Yuuma's apologies causes people's brains to melt, and eventually dissolves their entire bodies into goop. The worse part? They're still alive, or at the very least their souls are still anchored to their liquefied remains.
  • In Kado: The Right Answer, Sufficiently Advanced Alien Yaha-kui's first attempt at communication with a human leaves the poor sod (main character Shindo) writhing on the floor in agony. Fortunately Yaha-kui is able to gain knowledge of Japanese from Shindo's mind (and further from his cell phone's dictionary) and switches to verbal communication.
  • In Ore no Ie ga Maryoku Spot datta Ken - Sundeiru dake de Sekai Saikyou, the main character's voice causes the witches to wet themselves.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • The Invisibles must be the chief proponent of the trope, filled with "superdimensional" sounds and words with both positive and negative effects. There's sounds that cause rapid cancer, sounds that opens your consciousness similarly to an explosive, permanent LSD trip, sounds that make you throw up but only if you're a secret agent with multiple cover stories and at one point a hyperdimensional villain is defeated by the word "POP". (It makes him go pop.)
    • The Invisibles even posits that the alphabet itself is a Brown Note, the true name of a powerful demon that the Conspiracy uses to restrict human minds by inculcating the name as a sort of mantra in children.
  • The comic book Transmetropolitan has a literal brown note in the form of the bowel disruptor gun, which has settings including "loose", "watery" and "prolapse". And more creative later settings like "Intestinal Maelstrom", "Unspeakable Gut Horror", "Rectal Volcano", and everyone's favorite, "Shat Into Unconsciousness".
  • Warren Ellis used this trope again, but with more grounding in reality, in the fifth issue of Global Frequency. Disturbing subaudible frequencies are a major element of the mystery explored in this issue, and one character mentions the original Brown Note myth.
    • Also used in Global Frequency #3 with an alien invasion in the form of a signal that contains an alien society in its entirety. Exposure is dangerous even in the form of programming code on a computer screen. Merely reading the code makes an agent's eyes bleed as she struggles to keep the information from reprogramming her mind.
  • This also occurred in Ellis' City of Silence, where a hacker overrides every TV channel so demons can "relate all the secrets of hell on live TV". Hearing these secrets drives viewers insane... except for the protagonists, who "knew it all already" on account of being natives of hell.
  • In one issue of The Authority, there's an idea so disturbing that anyone who hears it has to tell someone else, and then kill themselves. It's stopped by having the last victim tell it to a film producer, then be restrained. The producer declares it "too downbeat" and promptly rewrites it to be more cheerful.
  • Enigma features "The Interior League", a supervillain team who sneaks into peoples homes and... rearranges their furniture. In such a way that when viewing it, the owner goes stark raving mad and murders their whole family.
  • In Jack Kirby's New Gods mythos (and consequently The DCU), there is the Anti-Life Equation, initially a mysterious "thing" which would somehow allow Darkseid to dominate all of life. Grant Morrison, in his Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis, explicitly revealed that it is a fundamental mathematical proof that life is not worth living, thus allowing the wielder to destroy the wills of any being by simply exposing them to it.
    • There also exists the Life Equation, which is the fundamental proof that life is worth living. The heroes use the Life Equation to counter the Anti-Life near the end of Final Crisis.
  • Pied Piper, usually a mostly harmless reformed villain in The DCU, turns out to be able to cause a Brown Note effect with his flute, as demonstrated in Countdown to Final Crisis. Not only does he kill Desaad with it, he takes out Apokolips. And he does it using the music of Queen. Pied Piper could do this because he was one of the rare humans who possessed the entire Anti-Life Equation inside his mind.
    • In that same event, Superman destroyed Darkseid by creating a sound that disrupted his energy form.
  • Robin Series: Looking the Curator in the eye turns the viewer to stone, which the Curator then treats as part of an exhibit along with his other victims.
  • An old Casper the Friendly Ghost comic had a story about a scarecrow so un-scary that the Ghostly Trio gave it the scariest face in existence: a photo of the Ogre of the Black Pool. It was so scary it even scared ghosts! In fact, the only thing it couldn't scare was a sweet little old lady who painted over the scarecrow's face with a friendly one when it came to life and went berserk. (Those old Harvey comics could get weird.)
    • Speaking of Harvey, ghost boos. They frighten practically everything, even gods and demons! (To be fair, though, demons in the Harvey-verse aren't exactly terrifying.) Even a ghost thinking the word "boo" could scare people, provided that ghost could communicate telepathically. Subverted when Fatso claimed to be scary enough to cause the sun to go out. He took his skeptical brothers out on a sunny day and very quietly whispered "Boo" - and the sun turned black! The two other brothers panicked ("He's scared the sun dark!") until Fatso assured them that the sun would be bright again when it no longer felt frightened. He then went back into the house and admitted to the reader that he had known the exact moment when a solar eclipse would occur.
  • DCU villain Johnny Sorrow's face instantly kills anyone who sees it.
  • From Bone, Fone Bone's reading voice causes mild drowsiness for human listeners, and debilitating pain for rat creatures. This is probably mostly because he always reads Moby-Dick.
  • In Mike Carey's Lucifer, a primordial Jin En Mok creature in human guise punishes a janitor, who disturbed his train of thought, by giving him a gold coin bearing "the sigil Calx." As the janitor stares transfixed at the sigil, the Jin En Mok tells him that he will look at it more often each day, with a corresponding increase in pain and pleasure, until he dies within a year.
  • When Marvel Comics had the Star Trek license, they did a Deep Space Nine Dominion War crossover involving Deep Space Nine, the TNG crew and (barely, for obvious reasons) Kes from Voyager, set during the Dominion War, where the Dominion tried to incapacitate all the telepaths from the Alpha Quadrant with what amounted to an earworm. It flipped your brain, so friends were enemies and enemies friends. When Bashir and Beverly Crusher figured it out, they fought it back with another earworm. (TNG telepaths liked sharing thoughts on the aether.)
  • Li'l Abner:
    • The strip featured "Lena the Hyena", who was supposed to be so ugly that the sight of her face would cause insanity in Dogpatch residents and the reader, so her face wasn't shown at first. Eventually there was a contest to decide what she looked like.Basil Wolverton won. Lena later made a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (as a sex offender in Toontown).
    • Stupefyin' Jones was the opposite. She was so stunningly beautiful that any male who looked at her would freeze, rooted to the spot. (She was a deadly hazard for any confirmed bachelor on Sadie Hawkins Day, and she would often use her powers then on purpose, simply for fun.) Her cousin Available Jones (who was always available - for a price) wasn't above providing her power for a fee if anyone needed someone subdued.
  • In The Sandman #45, Ishtar is a goddess in human form working as an exotic dancer, and apparently she's been holding back the full extent of her dancing talents. After a visit from Dream and Delirium, she stops holding back. Her last dance kills the audience and burns the strip club to the ground.
  • In The Apocalypse Suite arc of The Umbrella Academy, the antagonist has constructed an orchestra of the sadistic and suicidal to play a symphony that will end the world. Similarly, The White Violin is capable of making heads explode and bodies tear themselves apart by just barely scraping her strings.
  • In Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire: The Gallimaufry, there is a game called "Martian Charades", in which a human performs a series of ritualized gestures at an audience of aliens. The gestures have all been clinically proven to be hysterically funny to almost every race in the cosmos except humans themselves. The alien who can keep a straight face the longest is the winner. Moreover, the sight of an audience of multivariate aliens falling all over itself in laughter tends to make the performing human sick. Making the human sick is considered an important secondary goal of the game. (All of this was suggested in a fan letter after Foglio mentioned "Martian Charades" in an issue of Buck Godot, and Foglio embraced it as canon.)
  • Marvel Comics villain Angar the Screamer had the power to cause nightmarish hallucinations by screaming. He would then rob his victims while they were paralyzed with horror. Amnesia would set in after the effect faded, leaving the victims wondering where they'd left their wallets.
  • Mark Waid's Irredeemable had a sonic virus that melted off its child victims' skin right down to their bones and animated their skeletons. It spread through the screams of the adult witnesses.
    • Orian, a demonic hunter, is summoned by merely reading (not aloud) a mystic sigil. He arrives in our world by ripping his way out through the victim's mouth.
  • A Hellblazer story seemed to be about this when people celebrating a revived pagan festival became many interesting shades of crazy while some scientists were conducting mysterious tests at a nearby facility it turns out that the festival itself was the cause, since the scientists' equipment was not only unplugged but never worked to begin with.
  • In the one-shot Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum, the Hamburger Lady believes that her face is so deformed that anyone not already insane can't look upon it. Dr Arkham tries to prove her wrong by looking at her face... and is later implied to have gone insane because of it. Except that she was a figment of his imagination.
  • One of Tharg's Future Shocks from 2000 AD written by Alan Moore gave a spin on the alien parasite, Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type tale by suggesting that an alien life form could even be as abstract as an idea. One such "idea" takes over the mind of a person once he/she is told the "idea" by someone already possessed by it.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, the rival band "Crash and the Boys" has a song that is so epic, it knocks the audience unconscious for twenty to thirty minutes. (Its title is "Last Song Kills Audience".)
  • National Lampoon once ran a comic about Ugly Deirdre, a little girl who was so hideous that the sight of her face caused people to lose bowel control. A kind plastic surgeon tried to fix Deirdre's face... and the results were so horrible that anyone who looked at her would violently blind or kill themselves. The cartoonist spared us the sight of the after-surgery face by covering it with a black box labeled "TOO HIDEOUS FOR PUBLICATION".
  • Again in the DC Comics world, the Accomplished Perfect Physician of the Great Ten (the Chinese Justice League) is capable of both healing diseases and CREATING EARTHQUAKES, among several other things, by making special vocal sounds he learned in his training.
  • The Mike Allred comic, Red Rocket 7, featured a secret note of existence that if played, signaled the destruction of evil and the dawn of paradise. He used it to destroy an evil alien empire that was invading Earth (after it had taken over most of the universe) and signal the second coming of God.
  • One issue of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man gave Kraven the Hunter a girlfriend named Calypso, who could play the drums in such a way that it interfered with Peter's spider-sense.
  • Venus of the Agents of Atlas can affect minds with her song. Usually she puts them in a state of pleasure, but when she found out that she wasn't a goddess, but actually a Siren, her wail created a massive depression field.
  • In Beetle Bailey, swearing forcefully (usually but not always when done by Sergeant Snorkel) can have effects such as stunning people or killing flowers. Not to be confused with the times when Sarge shouts so loudly the sheer volume or wind of it has a physical effect.
  • Judge Fear (one of a group of undead Evil Counterparts) in Judge Dredd has the ability to kill anyone who looks at his face through sheer terror, typically by lifting his helmet while delivering his catchphrase. The title character is sufficiently badass to shrug it off and cave his face in with his bare hands.
    Judge Fear: Gaaaaaze into the face of Fear!
    Dredd: Gaze into the fist of Dredd!
  • Jeannette of Secret Six is a centuries old banshee who can make people relive her botched execution with her song. Wonder Woman, of all people, experienced it firsthand, and the fact that it didn't cause any permanent damage is itself a miracle.
  • Iznogoud: Iznogoud once enlists the help of a woman so ugly that seeing her face without a veil causes people to be frozen in horror — literally (as in, they instantly become encased in a block of ice — the woman uses her power to keep her sherbet fresh). The reader never gets to see her face; she offers to do so in the last panel, which is followed by a note saying that the pencil writer did not complete this panel and gave a "frigid reception" to the people sent to retrieve it.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye seems to like this trope:
  • In the Disney comic "Zio Paperone e lo slogan invincibile", John D. Rockerduck hears of an ancient "slogan", a Scottish phrase which supposedly leaves a lasting impression upon anyone who hears it. He proceeds to acquire it and proceeds to incorporate it in a grand advertising campaign for all his products. Too late, he finds out that it's a "slogan" in the old sense... namely, a Scottish clan's Battlecry. It leaves an "impression" upon its listeners all right—anyone who hears it instantly goes into blind panic. Not only Rockerduck is forced to pay a ridiculously large fine, all his potential customers get conditioned into instictively fearing his products.
  • In Secret Wars (2015) and shown in greater detail in the Siege mini-series, the Shield finally raises up roars something so powerful it stuns everyone and causes their ears to pop. A translator able to piece together what he said revealed a three-word, five-syllable phrase: "It's Clobberin' Time!"
  • The Yoko Tsuno album The Devil's Organ has the titular instrument, a gigantic Ominous Pipe Organ capable of producing sounds of sufficient intensity and low frequency to drive people to insanity or death.
  • The three-part comic series Memetic involves the viral spread of a picture of a sloth giving a thumbs up, which causes anyone who sees it to experience a wave of euphoria and turn into a screaming zombie not twelve hours later. Among other things.
  • Amelia Mintz from Chew is a saboscrivner, meaning that she can write or talk about food so vividly that it can cause people to actually taste it. Usually she uses it to do her job (she's a food critic). However, when terrorists try to take over the building, she proceeds to describe a particularly nasty meal, sending them to the hospital.
    • Later it was revealed, that her power aren't completely developed and at it's full potential it could induce fatal food poisoning. Eventually she uses it to write manuscript, which would kill anyone, who recently ate chicken.
  • In Tank Vixens, reading Gedda's diary is enough to make Firen and Sonya forget how FTL travel works.
  • Comic Book/Deadpool has a face horrifying enough to make Big Bertha throw up at the mere sight of it when he unmasks.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, Sean Cassidy's powers are upgraded from simply 'screaming at people' and 'improbably flying', to a number of other sound related applications. One of these is being able to hit the resonant frequency of various kinds of woods, the point at which they shatter. Wand woods, to be specific. If that didn't make him dangerous enough, chapter 70 reveals that he can also hit the resonant frequency of bone.
  • In the Danny Phantom fanfic Stolen Years of the Facing the Future Series, Jack invented a device that emitted a painful sound that only ghosts could hear. He got the effect backwards. It is later used to disable the Guys in White, to rescue Danielle.
  • In the Pony POV Series, there's Havoc, Anthropomorphic Personification of Mass Hysteria. Looking at his true form will terrify ponies so badly they'll likely never sleep again. His voice will reduce them to horrified wrecks.
  • In the prequel to a Portal 2 fanfiction called The Punishment, Wheatley falls victim to a glitch programmed into all personality cores which makes them "fall asleep" at the sound of human singing.
  • In Fallout: Equestria, contact with the Pink Cloud transforms anything capable of emitting sound (radios, loudspeakers, etc.) into 'corrupted broadcasters' that emit literal ear-piercing noises. Prolonged exposure to their signal can cause heads to explode.
  • In Flight has Jinki act like this for Shirou, as they completely confound his Structural Grasp.
  • The Stars Will Aid Their Escape:
    • During the attack on Canterlot, Herald has Trixie conjure the Red Sigil (an obvious expy of the Cthulhu Mythos' Yellow Sign), which causes intense pain if you just glimpse it, and insanity if viewed directly.
    • If Herald removes his mask and shows his true face, the viewer's mind is filled with knowledge of the Outer Gods, which drives them insane. This is what he does to Twilight Sparkle.
  • Equestrylvania: Just looking at Death's face Mind Rapes the viewer, causing them to relive every terrible memory they have.
  • In a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, Twilight Sparkle in Pages Of Harmony uses infrasound on Fluttershy as part of the procedures to break Kindness from her. The process causes Fluttershy to feel disoriented, a nearly tangible fear that completely overwhelms her as she experiences horrifying visions.
  • The Triptych Continuum ascribes this to her cutie mark, stating that ponies looking at it are quite disturbed, with Twilight nearly experiencing it as a breaking event. The mark is animated, and up until she came along, no mark had ever moved: the disruption of that level of constant doesn't go over well. Notably, however, some individuals aren't affected and claim it's beautiful, while Spike seems to be aware that something is off, but isn't sure what.
  • Apparently, an age-regressed Reimu and trying to understand her (or rather understand her personality and antics) is this for some, as Ran noted that trying to do so would cause mental distress, making the effect rather psychological. The fact that Reimu, by this point, is a youkai doesn't help matters either.
  • In The End of All Things a magical reaction destroys the Horcrux in Harry's scar during second year. It's stated that if Madame Pomfrey had been unlucky enough to hear the scream of the dying Horcrux it would've shattered her mind.
  • In Number 48 Harry's Grim Reaper says that Leviathan's true form is so impossibly beautiful that looking at him causes mortals to feel pain unless he decides otherwise.
  • In Pokemon Black & White: Tale of a Legend, Volan, Thrin, and their dragons are filled with intense pain and anger when they hear Kyurem's cry.
  • In The Power of the Press the screaming of a Horcrux being destroyed gives Sirius nightmares and makes an American observer physically ill.
  • Children of an Elder God: In episode 9, "The King In Yellow" play makes an appearance. When it's performed, a lot of people goes mad and dies, and Hastur shows up at the end. However, it's defeated and destroyed.
  • This Bites!:
    • Soundbite learns to produce a sound that causes extreme nausea and disorientation in everyone who hears it, enabling Cross to take them down easier. He and Cross christen it "Gastro-Phony" (going off of cacophony) in Chapter 25.
    • When DJ Gappa of Baron Omatsuri's crew, possessed by Lily, broadcasts on the SBS to invite them to come to their island, the sheer fakeness being broadcasted sends chills up everyone's spine. To say nothing of what happens when anyone tries calling Soundbite while on the island. All they get is a completely unholy sound, with a hint of something underneath. What? 
  • Ringo's mindsight turns out to function this way in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. Any genuine telepath (John is not one) who taps into Ringo while he's using mindsight will instantly become addicted to it, and unless he's heavily shielded, he'll also get the mental equivalent of a bad sunburn. And don't think the mindsight isn't having a comparable addictive effect on Ringo—hence his extreme Blessed with Suck.
  • Besides the Will of Evil: The screams of the fell beasts cause anyone who hears them to be overwhelmed by visceral terror.

    Film — Animated 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: The ominous red-eye symbol on Boss Wolf's shoulder and Lord Shen's tail triggers a Heroic B.S.O.D. moment for Po, since the evil red eye symbol was associated with a gruesome childhood memory in his home village.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Signal (2007) features an audio/video signal that has a psychological effect on anyone who hears/sees it, causing people to go insane, or become obsessed with the signal, and trying to make others experience the signal.
  • The videotape from Ringu (and its American adaptation, The Ring) which causes anyone who watches it to die seven days later unless they made a copy of the tape and gave it to someone else. In the American version, the short film Rings and the website "She Is Here" expand on the concept; Samara's videotape is treated almost like a mind-expanding drug.
    • In the original novels, it eventually becomes clear that the tape is not, in a traditional sense, haunted. The tape causes physical changes to the viewer's body, eventually resulting in their death. The film adaptation differs from this.
  • David Cronenberg's Videodrome, about a TV signal that causes brain tumors and hallucinations. The discoverers of the signal attach it to a violent gorn show in order to clean up society by killing everyone who watches violent television.
  • In Mystery Men, Casanova Frankenstein built a machine that could warp reality itself. Apparently the equations underlying it were so complex that anybody who studied them would go insane. Fortunately for Frankenstein, he was already insane and had spent a decade in the asylum with several of those scientists.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail has the Knights who say Ni!. Like their name makes clear, they utter the word "Ni!" in a very screechy high pitched voice to hurt passing travelers and scare them into doing their bidding. "Ni!" works whether it's the Knights saying it or someone else, as when King Arthur is harassing that old woman to find a shrubbery. It's later revealed the word "it" serves as a Brown Note against the Knights themselves.
  • In Mars Attacks!!, it is discovered that the Martians' main weakness is the singing voice of Slim Whitman; a recording of "Indian Love Call" causes their heads to explode. Seriously.
  • In Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, the eponymous tomatoes are pacified by a song called "Puberty Love". The last tomato, wearing earmuffs, was defeated by showing it a copy of the sheet music.
  • The James Bond film Live and Let Die opens with the assassination of the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United Nations, carried out through sound piped through his translation earpiece.
  • According to the Metatron in Dogma:
    "... human beings have neither the aural nor the psychological capacity to withstand the awesome power of God's true voice. Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode within your chest. We went through five Adams before we figured that out."
    • At the end of the film, God kills a now-mortal Bartleby by speaking a single word in his ear. His head blows up. The viewer hears only a deep, loud thrumming noise.
  • π is about a number sequence that helps define the universe. However, the process of determining this number is fatally destructive to a computer, be it machine or human.
  • The film Pontypool is about a memetic virus that is spread through human speech, leading to confusion and murder.
    "For your safety, please avoid contact with close family members, and refrain from the following: all terms of endearment, such as 'honey' or 'sweetheart'; babytalk with young children; and rhetorical discourse. For greater safety, please avoid the English language. Do not... translate... this message."
  • The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz features the Tuning Fork of Annihilation. When played back over the emergency broadcast system, it causes the destruction of all TV sets and kills all children who hear it.
  • In Steve Sullivan's A Heap of Trouble, any man who hears the naked men singing about walking down the road has an irresistible urge to join them.
  • In Iron Man, one of the weapons Stark Industries has developed is an auditory paralysis device. It causes anyone who hears the noise to be temporarily paralyzed. The government didn't OK production because it violates the Geneva convention. Obadiah, however, has no qualms about using it for his own gain more than once.
  • In High Anxiety Dr. Wentworth gets trapped in his car and killed from an ear hemorrhage caused by the loud rock music blaring from the car radio.
  • In Disturbing Behavior, the E-Rat-icator device used by Mr. Newburry is designed to have this effect on rats to drive them away, but it doesn't work so well. It is, however, damn effective against mind-control chips.
  • The Sick Sticks in Minority Report cause the victim to projectile vomit.
  • The David Lynch film version of Dune shows Atrades advanced weaponry is sonic in nature, using ultra and/or infrasound to shatter structures, inflict pain in enemy soldiers, etc. When Paul becomes The Chosen One he acquires the ability to imitate the effects of this sonic weaponry with just his voice
    Atreides: I can kill with a word.
    Soldier: And his word shall bring death eternal for all those who stand against the righteous!
  • In the The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle movie, the villains use a television program that causes the viewers to become zombies and attempt to broadcast it across the United States so Fearless Leader can become president.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, whatever's inside The Ark of the Covenant will melt your face off if you look at it when the cover comes off.
  • Constantine. When John is trying to exorcise a demon from a little girl he tells the men helping him not to look. One of them does and his hair instantly turns white.
  • In The Lords of Salem the song on the strange record has this effect on Heidi.
  • Kick-Ass 2 has the Sick Stick, a stun baton of sorts that induces instantaneous nausea and diarrhea on it's victims. Hit-Girl uses it on the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse for humiliating her.
  • R.I.P.D.: A dead-o weapon releases a sound that's harmless to their own kind but cause RIPD officers to move at a snail's pace.
  • Played for Laughs in The Chase, when Jackson Hammond (Charlie Sheen) tells his kidnapping victim to stop screaming at him because her voice is so high and whiny he can almost feel it boring into his skull. ("It's like a drill!")
  • In the religious horror film Deliver Us from Evil the (apparent) head villain repeatedly leaves graffiti in the form of latin/persian incantions written in strange places. It turns out simply reading these incantations, not necessarily even out loud, allows the reader to be possessed by a demon.
  • In the New Zealand-made film Deathgasm, the protagonist stumbles upon some sheet music that when played, turns anyone within earshot into demons.
  • In the 2015 film Kingsman: The Secret Service, the villain develops a signal (transmittable by cell phone) which causes anyone nearby to become violently homicidal. The first live test is done in a crowded church, while a highly competent secret agent happens to be present. The resulting four minutes of deadly free-for-all is epic.
  • The last segment of the horror anthology Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear features video recordings of experiments with a lethal Brown Note musical piece that makes listeners tear themselves apart. The researchers had to destroy the eardrums of their pianist just to let him play the whole thing, and it still killed him when he finished.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The concussion from the tank's main gun firing in the opening sequence puts the pursuing constables on the ground, groaning and helpless. Justified considering they just had several artillery shells powerful enough to blow the vault door off its hinges go off in a confined space; the bigger surprise is that the overpressure didn't outright kill them and that the Fantom and his men can still hear each other (apparently the tank cabin has very good sound insulation).
  • In the Thai horror film Coming Soon, watching the scene of the film within a film "Evil Spirit" where the Big Bad Shomba is hung to death after being discovered kidnapping children will cause whoever watches it to die.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Ramsay uses horns as a psychological weapon against his victims. His warhorn, which he loves to use, is a terrifyingly effective psychological weapon against Theon, and a single blast of it is capable of reducing him to a trembling, sobbing wreck within seconds.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus had a classic Brown Note in the form of the "Funniest Joke Ever Written", so funny that anyone who heard it would die laughing, used to parody documentaries on World War 2 (more specifically, those about the atomic bomb). We could tell you more about it, but instead, why don't you see for yourself? (At your own peril.)
    • The premise is that a British humorist writes a joke so unimaginably funny that anyone who reads or hears it quickly dies from fatal hilarity. The British army then translate the joke word-by-word to German using different translators (some of them fall into a coma after translating more than two words) and use it as a weapon against the Germans in WWII.
    • And that joke is: "Wenn ist das Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!" This cannot really be coherently translated given that it involves many nonexistent words, but whatever they're talking about apparently involves both dogs and pinball, and one can only imagine the possibilities of what humor could be made of that.
  • MythBusters tested the myth of the "brown note", specifically the version about a musical tone that could cause incontinence. For what it's worth, they found certain low frequencies could rattle your ears and stomach, inducing nausea—but they didn't find any that could loosen your bowels, so they declared it "busted".
  • The British Mythbusters knockoff Brainiac: Science Abuse also "tested" the Brown Note, but they claimed it worked. On the other hand, Brainiac's unprofessionalism stems not from a preference for showing the two goofiest personalities injuring themselves to showing their scientific scrupulosity, but from their not testing anything more than once and faking results if reality proves less than accommodating. In this case, they stuffed their victim in the porta-john with a speaker; when the test was over, the host (but not the camera) looked into the john and said, "We're going to need a bucket." Take that as you will.
  • The comedy series Upright Citizens Brigade featured sketches involving the "Bucket of Truth", a plastic bucket which would supposedly force anyone who looked into it to face some undefined, horrifying truth, driving them to the Despair Event Horizon (and thus lowering the price of a home that included it); the only one immune to its insanity-creating effect was a detective who was already far past the horizon, and his reaction was "Don't you think I know that!?!"
  • In Doctor Who:
    • The Master was forced to stare into the time vortex as a child and was driven mad by the sound of drums calling him to war. This sound has been running through his head without a break for close to a millennium now. It preys on him so much that the last time he died, his last words were "Will it stop, Doctor? The drumming, will it stop?"
    • In Fury from the Deep, Victoria Waterfield's screaming defeats the weed monster.
    • In "The Time of Angels" we learn that any image or recording of an weeping angel can become an angel. This goes double if you look an Angel in the eyes...
    • In Extremis there is the Veritas document that will cause anyone who reads it to kill themselves. The document is proof that the entire universe the reader is in, including the reader themselves, is nothing but a simulation with nothing real in it. Naturally it isn't the series' main 'verse.
  • Blipverts in Max Headroom, supercompressed TV commercials that occasionally make Your Head Asplode.
  • In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Music of the Spheres", the titular music is a signal from space which, in addition to being extremely addictive, ends up causing a series of dramatic physical transformations in listeners. Notably, unlike most examples of the Brown Note, the changes the music causes ultimately turn out to be beneficial - it transforms humans into a form that is resistant to a high-UV environment, which is what the Earth is about to become due to the sun undergoing a "shift".
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, when the frequency emitted from Jack's grandson makes the 456 explode in a shower of blood (and then somehow teleport away in their flaming pillar) and also kills Stephen.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty". Anyone seeing the true form of a Medusan becomes dangerously insane. An example of the surreal, Twilight Zoney, Space Is Magic philosophy that Star Trek started out with. The old writers didn't feel any need to "explain" everything, much less with the same Techno Babble every week. The Medusans don't emit dangerous radiation or anything, they're just supposed to look so weird that you'll lose your mind if you see one. (When traveling among mundanes they hide in little coffins like vampires.) Ironically, despite the madness they induce, the one Medusan we meet is actually pretty friendly and only exposes himself to a guy trying to kill him, and to telepaths, their minds are stated to be some of the most sublime in the galaxy.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The episode "The Game," which features an addictive video game which stimulated the brain's pleasure centers.
    • Starfleet developed one of these with the intent of using it against the Borg: a computer graphic of a shape that cannot exist in reality. The theory was that it would spread throughout the Collective as they attempted (and failed) to "solve" it. Picard eventually rejected the plan to inject it into the Collective via a disconnected drone, instead deciding to help "Hugh" gain individuality. In the relaunch series of novels, however, he was directly ordered to use it and all other available weapons against the resurgent, now much more dangerous and aggressive Borg.
  • The short-lived show Threshold has this as the central plot, with an alien audio signal rewriting the DNA of people encountering it. In most cases it lead to those people dying horribly, but others became stronger and tougher, and most of all homicidal.
  • Look Around You:
    • The Music episode in series one features the boîte diabolique, an extension to the piano keyboard containing the nineteen forbidden notes. These notes cause listeners' ears to bleed upon hearing them. Naturally, the sound in the recording is muted during the demonstration to save the viewers' own ears.
    • The Food episode of series two featured an image so frightening that it causes users of the Slimby diet shakes to sweat all of the fat out of their bodies. The joke is that this is a huge Anti-Climax: after copious warnings about the dangers of looking for too long, the picture itself turns out to be a hilariously tame image of a bear and a model skeleton.
  • One episode of The Middleman involves a cursed tuba from the Titanic that causes anyone who hears it to "drown in the icy waters of the North Atlantic". Including people who are on dry land at the time.
  • The Green Clarinet sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look ends with a put-upon waiter countering the Clarinet's forced-truth effect with a literal Brown Note from a red tuba. The clarinet itself may not be a literal example, but it does have the effect of compelling the listener to reveal "an embarrassing truth... that they'll be unable to deny." Call it emotional harm if you must.
  • In the Heroes online comic, a man with sound control powers ("Echo DeMille") makes use of the Brown Note. As he puts it, instead of killing the men following him, he lays waste to them.
  • An episode of Seinfeld had to do with Elaine going out with a man who would go into near-catatonic states of bliss when he heard the Eagles song "Desperado". Irritated, she tried to get him to make a song "their song", suggesting "Witchy Woman", which he doesn't seem to particularly care for. At the end of the episode, he gets into a car accident, but unfortunately the surgeon goes into a similar state of lapse when he hears, irony of ironies, "Witchy Woman", which is playing on the speakers for some reason. It's implied the man dies as a result.
    • Kramer's hilarious reaction to Mary Hart's voice. It's apparently Truth in Television. See the real life examples.
  • On the Lockdown episode of The 4400, there was a fairly literal example of a brown note. In the episode, T.J. Kim, one of the 4400, had the ability to send out a frequency that caused extreme violence, paranoia and aggression... however, it only affected men. It was to the point where completely ordinary, even meek men were scrambling to kill anything that moved out of fear it would kill them first.
  • The painting in the Saturday Night Live digital short "Everyone's a Critic".
    • An early Saturday Night Live sketch, "Bad Opera", featured Dan Ackroyd as an arts presenter introducing the Bad Opera "The Golden Note". In this opera parody, the lead soprano is chosen by the Norse Gods to receive and sing the Golden Note, but the hero knows that the power of that note would kill her if she ever sang it. As Ackroyd's character explains during the performance, the Golden Note is a sustained high C of such tone, volume and length that the soprano singing the note suffers from "larynx lock", making her unable to stop singing that note.
  • An episode of Fringe involved a virus that downloads itself onto computers (and it's 666 megabytes in size, go figure). Once it successfully downloads, a popup ad appears on the screen called "What's That Noise?" Clicking on it produces a series of seizure-inducing images that place the viewer in a hypnotic state due to audio waves stimulating the brain. The viewer then hallucinates a ghastly hand coming out of the computer screen, and when it touches them, their brains melt into liquid due to overstimulation and flow out of every orifice.
    • A later episode had a frequency broadcast over the radio that completely wiped the memories of everyone who heard it. The backstory alluded to a radio broadcast that existed before the existence of radios. The broadcast itself was composed of a random series of numbers spoken in every different language.
      • As it turned out, the radio broadcast gave the co-ordinates to the pieces of the Machine that could bridge/break/destroy universes. Who built the machine? Walter Bishop did. Then he travelled back in time to a prehistoric age, broke the Machine into pieces, buried them across the world and set up the radio broadcast that led to their eventual discovery. Gnarly. The memory-wiping part was put there by agents from the Alternate Universe to capture the attention of the Fringe Division. It wasn't a part of the original broadcast.
  • An episode of The X-Files ("Drive") involved a secret Navy communication device which generated radio waves that supposedly vibrated at a frequency that matched that of a human skull, filling listeners' head with increasing pressure that would blow out of their ears fatally unless the pressure was relieved surgically.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush", the Gentlemen could only be killed by hearing a human voice. In this case though it's non specific, any human voice will do as long as it's a live person and not a recording.
  • In Angel in the demon dimension of Pylea music does not exist. When Lorne, exile from this dimension begins to sing, the locals react with pain and terror, taking it for malevolent sorcery.
    • Then there was Jasmine. People fell under her mind control just by looking at her face.
  • The Twilight Zone TOS "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby". Frisby encounters aliens who are harmed by musical notes from a harmonica.
    • Another Twilight Zone example: in the 1980s revival episode "Need to Know", anyone who hears a short phrase that reveals the meaning of life goes insane.
  • In the first season of True Detective, the 'King in Yellow' is a recurring reference point (the King in Yellow is a short story about a play that drives anyone reading it insane - see under Literature, above), invoking this trope as the heroes encounter a series of witnesses who have been driven mad by their encounter with the central mystery of the season. Towards the finale, the protagonists finally view a videotape that induces violent reactions in anyone who views it, and argue over whether they should even watch it. Because True Detective exists in a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane setting, we get the showrunner's literal interpretation of a tape that can drive people mad: a record of horrible abuse against a child.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: The only thing capable of instantly defeating Artie the Strongest Man in the World is the sound of a whammy bar.
  • In Firefly, "The Hands of Blue" pursuing Simon and River Tam would kill anyone that got in their way or came in contact with the two fugitives by pulling out a small device that emitted a noise causing anyone to hear it to bleed from, well, everywhere. "The Hands of Blue" were not affected by the device, presumably due to protective body armor under their suits (the blue armor extends to their hands, hence their name).
    • It's implied that this will not kill River either, so it's probably something the Academy does in the brain.
  • An episode of Masters of Horror titled "Cigarette Burns" revolved around a certain film, La Fin absolue du Monde, all copies of which were thought to have been destroyed after its first screening sparked a homicidal riot amongst the audience. It is revealed at the end that the reason for this is that La Fin absolue du Monde was a video of an angel being mutilated, and the evil of that horror affects all who view the film.
  • The Lost Room featured a number of objects with Brown Note effects, including a pack of cards that would cause the viewer to suffer startling visions, a nail file which induces sleep in anyone who sees light reflected from it and an umbrella which causes people to find the holder familiar.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has the painting known only as "the abomination" in the story "Mona Lisa's Revenge". Then somebody tries to animate it.
  • Chuck has this as its core trope, in the form of the Intersect, a pattern-recognition and confidential storage computer designed to be installed into human brains through a long, high-speed sequence of seemingly random images. Watching the Intersect installation program run paralyzes you temporarily and makes you nauseous at best, and has been shown to kill people at worst.
    • Two unnamed spies had it installed and became almost entirely unfeeling robots, expressing pity to Chuck's predicament after they had it uninstalled. Another subject began to think of himself as a god and made a Face–Heel Turn, eventually suffering amnesia. Sarah was another victim of this, losing all memories of her time with Chuck and Casey after the person who was originally supposed to receive the Intersect back in season one kidnapped and showed her flash cards designed to activate the Intersect. Every time he did, she would suffer an intense cluster headache and lose more time.
  • This theme also becomes an important plot point in Dollhouse. In the first season, we see an example of a "remote wipe", which removes the imprinted personality of the doll and restores him or her to their doll state. In the second season, Topher develops a device that can wipe anyone you point it at, even normal humans.
  • MTV's Fur TV features an episode where Fat Ed's Heavy Metal band Stinkhole discovers the literal Brown Note. Many innocents shit themselves to death listening to the song.
  • On Supernatural, seeing Castiel's true face (and presumably the true faces of all other angels) causes one's eyes to burn out of their sockets, as seen in the fourth season premiere, and his true voice causes windows to shatter and ears to bleed. In vessel form, however, they can be heard and seen normally.
  • Warehouse 13 contains tons of objects that are capable of this, without even going into the really dangerous things in The Dark Vault, like Sylvia Plath's typewriter, which sucks the will to live out of a person just by looking at it. In fact, all of the artifacts in the Dark Vault are activated by some human sense.
    • Other artifacts include a song that causes a state of euphoric bliss in anyone who hears it, leaving them helpless, a bell that makes people laugh until they asphyxiate, another bell (owned by Ivan Pavlov) that makes a person drool excessively for 24 hours, and Lizzy Borden's Compact, causing whoever looks into the mirror to want to kill the person they love.
  • On The Colbert Report, due to the massive size of his balls, Stephen has a very, very low speaking voice. So low, in fact, that he is constantly in danger of hitting the brown note, so his doctor gave him a prescription for helium in order to maintain the pitch we normally hear him speaking in.
    "My apologies to Doris Kearns Goodwin."
  • On Pixelface, Romford claims to be able to play a tone that will make someone wet themselves.
  • In Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, Hiromu's Weakpoint is chickens. Seeing one, or even a picture of one, causes him to stop dead in his tracks, and even hearing the word "chicken" causes his movement to become stunted.
  • Tony Blackburn attempts to escape from The Slammer by playing a record of his own creation that puts anyone who hears it to sleep.
  • Parodied on Community, where Jeff warns the group not to look at Annie when she turns on the Puppy-Dog Eyes. Abed doesn't think they'd work on him, until Jeff puts it in terms he'd understand; "She's the Ark of the Covenant!"
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon did a sketch, "Joking Bad", which parodied Breaking Bad. In it, Jimmy Fallon ends up trading "the purest joke he ever wrote - it'll make you laugh your ass off" - in order to get all of his other jokes back. The guy he gives it to reads it and starts laughing. The camera pans away and the sound of an explosion is heard. The man walks out of the room and turns around to reveal that he has a hole in his pants and no ass.
  • In the Haven episode "When The Bough Breaks", whenever a member of the Harker family cries, a random person in town hears it and dies. If the person continues to cry, more and more people will be killed. It normally manifests at puberty, so the family keeps it in check by teaching their kids to never cry. Unfortunately, William triggers the ability in Aaron Harker, a baby.
  • 1000 Ways to Die featured an episode where an iDoser (a drug dealer {of sorts} who uses special MP3s that can create hallucinogenic effects when listened) creates a low-frequency sound called "Satan's Jackhammer," which first makes him wet and soil his pants, then makes his cells pop and his organs suffer catastrophic failure.
  • Adam Adamant Lives!: Aside from developing Mind-Control Music, the evil sound engineer Carson in "Sing a Song of Danger" is developing a sound bomb that will kill through applied sonics. He attempts to test it on Adam, Georgina and Simms.
  • I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse: The Zombie Apocalypse starts because of a 'new Wi-Fi signal' that mutates people into the undead.
  • Unhappily Ever After: In "Tiffany's Rival", its revealed that Tiffany was potty-trained to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and now she has to go to the bathroom whenever she hears it. Guess what the Alpha Bitch does to her own advantage the next day in the lunchroom?
  • Humorously parodied in Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! with the "iJammer," which in-universe Mega-Corp Cinco markets as "the first digital music box with two revolutionary dance tones!" Anyone who listens to either of the frequencies from the box—either "iJammer" or "e-Bumper"—suffers from seizures, wildly aggressive behavior, widened eyes, and general addiction. The box also produces an "OOPY DOOPY!" protein paste called "Oh Hungee," which seems designed to hook listeners even more, as they don't need to stop to eat. The kicker? The iJammer is manufactured by Cinco Toys—meaning it's aimed at children.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: Mr. Potato Head works hard writing a masterpiece script, hoping it will satisfy the man his TV Bosses put in charge of his show. He actually writes something that causes anyone who reads it to go bug-eyed and scream "I have gazed into the nameless horror of the void!". Which actually works perfectly in this case.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The initial purpose of the bad-movie "experiments" is to find one bad enough to be weaponized. They got close a few times. The creators said the worst movie they ever featured was Monster a-Go Go. The movie was so boring they couldn't even think of anything to do in the out of theater segments.

    Music 
  • The music video for the Radiohead song "Just" begins with a man lying down in the middle of the street and refusing to budge. As people gather, they ask him (all the dialogue being in subtitles) why he's lying there, and after refusing over and over again, he finally caves in. The camera zooms in on his mouth as he's speaking, but with the subtitles suddenly removed, the audience has no idea what he's saying. The final scene of the video is of all the people around him lying on the ground in the same posture, his words presumably having had the exact same effect on them as on him.
    • The closeup has him repeating "God help me, I'll tell you." and it's implied that he's actually saying it during the shot of Radiohead looking out the window.
  • The Kate Bush song Experiment IV: "But they told us All they wanted Was a sound that Could kill someone from a distance."
    • And in the video, the scientists deliver; although the sound does not manifest anything like what might have been expected. (The video is also notable these days for featuring the then-virtually-unknown Hugh Laurie in a cameo role!)
  • "The Sermon II", the opening, spoken-word track on The Creepshow's album "Run For Your Life", is about a radio signal that causes a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Hawkwind's song "Sonic Attack" (actually more spoken-word with a few musical undertones) features a public service announcer giving advice on what to do "In case of Sonic Attack on your region," and describing symptoms of "imminent sonic destruction," which include dizziness, vomiting, an ache in the pelvic region, and fits of hysterical shouting or laughter (at which the announcer starts laughing hysterically, revealing that the Sonic Attack has hit his region).
  • DYE's "Fantasy" music video ends with the protagonist seeing an Eldritch Abomination so horrible that the mere sight of it made her eyes explode into flame.
  • They Might Be Giants:
    • In "Experimental Film" the ending of the titular film supposedly "makes your face implode".
    • In "Spiralling Shape", the eponymous "hypnotic and strange" shape "will make you go insane", despite which "everyone wants to see that groovy thing".
  • Devo performed a live cover of "In Heaven" from Eraserhead in 1979, with Mark Mothersbaugh as Booji Boy on vocals. In the middle of the song Booji would give a speech about future "holographic" Devo concerts, which would include the following feature: "And we'll pass out diapers at the door for everyone, so that when you all get in here, we'll turn on the sub-sonic frequencies, and we'll all sh*t our pants together!"
  • The Lonely Island's "WHEN WILL THE BASS DROP?" (featuring Lil Jon), a parody of dubstep DJ's, is this in the music video. When the bass finally drops, Lil Jon says "Get turned up to death!" and people immediately start exploding and/or killing themselves.
  • According to Chromeo's video for "When The Night Falls", their music apparently has the ability to instantly make women nine months pregnant.

    Myths and Religion 
  • Some plants are said to have this power:
    • The root of the mandrake plant looks a bit like a tiny person. Naturally, people were afraid it would scream if cut, then that it would scream if ever dug up, and finally that if anyone heard it scream, they would die. In some cases, violently.
    • They say that Bluebell flowers will make a sound when there is wind. They say that the bells toll your death, after you hear it, you die on the spot.
  • There's the Irish legend of the harp of Daghda, which could cause pain, laughter, or peace through music.
  • The Basilisk and/or Cockatrice take this trope to a new level:note 
    • They are small and can easily hide and sneak about and pop up anywhere, they are pure evil, they must come into this world by unnatural means (often by a rooster laying an egg), and to meet their gaze is to drop dead on the spot. Or to turn into stone. Or they kill/petrify you just by looking at them. Or by touching you or breathing on you. Or they leave a path of desolation ("creating a desert") wherever they walk. Or... it may be easier at this point to say that the Reptiles Are Abhorrent trope is very old, and has much to do with the wildly exaggerated dangerousness of poisonous snakes.
    • They're so deadly that even trying to stab them transmits their Brown Note to you. As Lucan wrote, "What though the Moor the Basilisk hath slain, and pinned him lifeless to the sandy plain, up through the spear the subtle venom flies; the hand imbibes it, and the victor dies."
    • There is one definite Brown Note connected to the basilisk legends: the crow of a rooster will kill it.
  • Greek Mythology
    • The sight of Medusa and her Gorgon sisters either kills you instantly or turns you into stone depending on what version of the legend you read. In most versions, this power remains with her hideous visage even after she's been beheaded, and it ends up mounted on Athena's shield or breastplate for exactly that reason. Medusa was killed by the hero Perseus who had (along with various god-given tools) a mirrored shield — not to reflect her gaze back NetHack style, but to look into, so he could aim his sword to kill her without looking directly at her.
    • The Sirens are like an auditory version of the Gorgons, as they lure sailors to their death with their song.
    • Seeing the true form of the Greek Gods was said to have this effect on mortals, with one of the more famous cases being when Semele, a human princess, was tricked by Hera into convincing Zeus to reveal his true form to her since he had been coming to her in the night in disguise. When he finally relented and threw off his disguise she was incinerated instantly. Thankfully her demigod fetus was immortal so Zeus was able to take it and bring it to term in his thighnote  and eventually gave birth to Dionysus.
  • The cobra was long believed to be able to hypnotize its prey with its gaze and movements.
  • The Pied Piper could lure victims anywhere with his music, including to their own certain deaths. Yeah, using it on rats was hailed as a public service, but: he used it on children when their parents wouldn't pay him as agreed.
  • There are oodles of urban legends about a house of horrors exhibit which pays you back part of the admission price for every floor of the building's unimaginable contents you clear. The typical version of the legend has it that no one so far has ever fully managed the task, though some people have been found dead of fright on the fifth and final floor. According to Snopes, there is no known evidence for any real life basis for this legend.
    • The eyes of cemetery statue "Black Aggie" are said to glow bright red in the middle of the night, either blinding or killing anyone who looks into them. (source)
  • Seeing the full glory of God is harmful for mortals; none can see God's face and live. Moses asked to see God's face, and after explaining the aforementioned, God placed him in a crevice and passed over while showing His back to Moses. That was enough to make Moses' face shine when he went down. Saul saw God's light while on his way, and even closing his eyes during the encounter still rendered him blind. On the other hand, the Beautitudes mentioned how the pure of heart are blessed, for they will see God.
  • The draugr of Icelandic mythology are an interesting example, because though the sight of them is a Brown Note, not everyone responds the same way. Some are "merely" driven mad by them while others scream uncontrollably until they eventually die of exhaustion. Some people aren't affected at all, although the only way to guarantee that is to have Heroic Resolve.

    Radio 
  • A very weird example Played for Laughs as a Running Gag twice per episode is from Car Talk. At the end of every episode or when going to a commercial break half way though, one of the hosts of the show would say "And even though (random person has a humorous negative reaction) every time they hear us say it, this is NPR, National Public Radio."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An article in Dragon Magazine, the late official magazine of the game, described a sage who delved into the study of the Lords of the Nine, the nine arch-devils who rule the Nine Hells of Baator. He went missing; all that turned up of him were a few spots of blood on his floor. It's speculated that either he attracted the attention of the devils, who spirited him away; or that that the sheer evil of the tomes he was reading caused him to spontaneously implode. This is also similar to the legend of Faust, who gave rise to the term "Faustian bargain" and was ultimately found splattered all over the floor... and the walls... and the ceiling.
    • In D&D, it's possible to place spell traps on objects, which are triggered by looking at, or reading them.
      • "I prepared Explosive Runes this morning."
      • Urban Arcana takes this trope to the 21st century, by including rules on how to send spells over the Internet. Be careful next time you open that email attachment...
    • Bards can charm other creatures using singing and music.
      • Waaaaay back in the 1E era, there was a Dragon Magazine article about a high-level bard ability called the "Last Jest". Properly delivered, this joke could make villains laugh themselves to death.
    • This ability was brought to 3.5 as a Gnome PrC ability. Took three rounds to finish the target off and the second round had another effect.
    • There are a number of monsters that can harm with sound: Wolfweres (singing = sleep), androsphinx (roar = deafness), cloaker (moaning), tyrg (howling) and so on. And banshee.
    • The 9th Level Wizard/Sorcerer spell Wail of the Banshee. Like the actual banshee's power, it was an awful scream that killed anyone who heard it while too close to the caster.
    • Up to the 3rd Edition, nymphs were so beautiful, looking at one could blind or even kill humans. As a rule, looking at a clothed nymph could blind you, while looking at a nude nymph could kill you. In the 3rd Edition, clothing didn't matter, they could focus their beauty as a sort of overwhelming aura (though it only stunned you rather than killing you), and in the 4th Edition, they could not harm humans with their beauty at all. (Seduction and trickery, on the other hand...)
    • Many magical musical instruments can affect targets as well, such as a satyr's pipes.
    • There are a plethora of spells which create harmful sounds as well.
    • Also colours: Colour Spray, Prismatic Wall, etc.
    • Anyone who sees the true face of Pale Night, the Obyrith precursor of Tanar'ri (Elaborated upon below)
      • The Obyriths in 3.5 are a species of demons modeled universally on Lovecraftian concepts: to look on them is to invite madness and insane terror, even in those otherwise magically immune to such emotions. Dagon evokes terror of the sea, Ugudenk the Squirming King causes any viewer to realize he can burst from the ground at any time and thus to be terrified of the ground, etc. The most powerful of the Obyriths was supposed to be Obox-Ob, the first of the species who has a shape that could be very roughly analogued to something like a titanic scorpion, but with the head and tails (yes, plural) switched around, and horrible tentacle-tongues and worse. But the deadliest of the Obyriths, insomuch as their ability to cause madness, is Pale Night. She takes the shape of a softly curvaceous humanoid female, wrapped in a billowing shroud. Attempting to pull the shroud aside and see her true form is difficult, but if you do manage it, you must immediately make a saving throw. Success means you failed to understand what you saw beyond the veil. Failure means you understand what you see: a shape so alien, horrifically indescribable and anathematic to all existence that you are instantly slain. What's more, if a victim of this effect is brought back to life or magic is used to communicate with his spirit, he is unable to describe what he saw. As it happens, the shroud is something reality itself imposes on her to cloak her true shape as a way of protecting the rest of existence. Even the Far Realm, home to true Lovecraftian horrors in the D&D mythos, is not as innately lethal to witness (though entering it can do worse than just kill you... )
      • And the Devils have their own example, from second edition up to 3.5 in the form of Asmodeus and the tale of the Serpent's Coil. Supposedly, the Asmodeus all creatures understand to exist isn't the real thing, but rather a highly advanced illusion, or an avatar. The King of Hell's true form was hurled down into Hell from the Celestial Realms long ago. Asmodeus' impact into Baator is what split the plane into nine layers. Asmodeus' true body came to rest in a tunnel of rock hundreds of miles long created by his landing, called The Serpent's Coil. And it rests there still, slowly recovering its strength. Hearing this story didn't harm the listener at all, but anyone who told the tale of Asmodeus' "True Form" died within 24 hours. Anyone.
    • Cyric of the Forgotten Realms created a tome called the Cyrinishad that would brainwash anyone who read it into being a devoted worshipper of Cyric. Things got bad when he accidentally read it himself. As a result he became even crazier and came to believe his own hype. He eventually got better.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness sourcebook (3/3.5 material) introduced "Dark Speech", a language so evil that hearing a single word spoken in it can potentially drive people away screaming in terror, as it's simply that awful. (Trying to speak even a single word of it without the proper training is lethal, and only evil entities like Archdevils can manage more than a short phrase.)
    • Demon Lords qualify. The Fifth Edition core rulebooks include a set of optional Madness mechanics for horror themed campaigns. There are three stages of madness, that is, short term, long term, and indefinite. Then the Out Of The Abyss campaign came out, and each Demon Lord listed can ignore those rules, sending you straight to Indefinite Madness if you so much as look directly at them. Demogorgon can cause a character to develop a second personality or solve all of their problems with murder, among other things. Yeenoghu, among other things, can give a character a taste for the flesh of intelligent beings. Orcus can make someone take pleasure in the suffering of the weak, want to become undead, or develop an unhealthy fascination with death. And all of this can happen just by looking at a demon lord.
  • Symbols of Chaos in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 are capable of making men nauseous at best to insane at worst, and that's saying nothing of actually gazing upon daemons.
    • This a rather favorite tactic of Chaos. There was an old story about the forces of Chaos capturing a Janitor or somesuch, and then returning him back home... after telling him a word. Cue the inquisition purging the planet continuously for a thousand years, before finally resorting to Exterminatus.
      • In addition the Imperium have their own Brown Note in the form of the Culexus Assassin. These rare mutants are like psychic black holes, whose bizarre non-presence seriously puts the wind up anyone (including their own allies) within a few feet.
    • There's a good example of this in the Ciaphas Cain novel Traitor's Hand, in which Cain witnesses an Imperial Guard trooper bleed from the eyes after staring at the symbols on the walls of a shrine to Slaanesh.
    • And the worshippers of Slaanesh in Warhammer have a word that, when whispered into your ear, can kill you.
    • Speaking of Slaanesh, any mortal who looks directly at his true form will instantly lose their soul and willingly become his slave for all eternity.
    • Anything involving Slaanesh would result in this. His champion, Lucius, has a set of armor that turns you INTO him if you kill him and feel even the slightest sense of accomplishment. Then there's also the ability to make yourself so irresistable that the enemy will lose the will to shoot at you.
    • The Jabberslythe unit for Warhammer Beastmen is apparently so hideous it drives enemy units insane. Understandably, it's the only unit without a picture in its entry.
  • Earthdawn. Simply reading about the Horrors can cause psychological problems and attract their attention upon the reader.
  • Call of Cthulhu. Reading Cthulhu Mythos books or seeing Mythos monsters can cause a loss of sanity and eventual insanity.
    • In Delta Green, a certain document contains a "formula" that, to an average person, appears to be nothing more than a random sequence of numbers. However, a character whose skill in math is good enough will instantly recognize it as a "formula" that proves that there are higher dimensions of existence... and will then immediately Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence by just thinking about it.
  • It's quite possible for Malkavians with high Dementation and Auspex in Vampire: The Masquerade to booby-trap books, paintings or songs with their discipline's powers. It's even possible to modify your aura in that way, to punish curious Auspex users.
    • And the Daughters of Cacophony have many ways to screw you over with their singing.
      • More specifically, the Daughters of Cacophony are a vampire bloodline that specializes in madness inducing sounds. They select good singers, but the vampiric magic makes it dangerous.
  • In 7th Sea, there is a red jewel known as "Legion's Spike". While not everyone has been affected by it, some unfortunate cases who have stared into its depths have suffered from catatonia, madness and homicidal rampages. And there's apparently more than one such gem.
  • In GURPS the Terror advantage (caused by whatever aspect of yourself you wish) can terrify victims beyond all reason. At its worst Terror can cause permanent insanity and actually make someone so horrified by the effect that he becomes stupider.
    • GURPS: Ultra-Tech has a more literal brown note. Sonic nauseators make people void their bowels as side effect of knocking them out. Just don't mix one up with a Sonic Screamer, which produces a sound that melts the target.
  • Shadowrun had the Flash Pak, a device that fired light bulbs in a random stroboscopic sequence that caused disorientation in anyone who viewed it. Similarly Cyberpunk2020 has a funny option for cyberarms that can cause the same effect plus seizures.
  • Witnessing mad science in Genius: The Transgression can turn a normal person into a Beholden or a full-fledged Genius. One of the reasons for The Masquerade is because, well, otherwise that's just more labs to feed.
    • And, naturally, there's rules for building Brown Notes ranging from "blinding flash of light" to "self-aware infectious meme".
  • Magic: The Gathering's joke set Unhinged has a card called Stone-Cold Basilisk that can temporarily turn players to stone. The ability is triggered by reading the card.
  • Exalted features a spell called Rune of Singular Hate. It's described as a single word full of such vile and complete hatred that, when uttered at someone, curses them to debility at best, and outright death at worst. It's such a powerful word that it even affects the caster in a similar way, and can only be cast once in a lifetime.
    • Similarly, the Deathlord known as the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible is working on a mammoth collection of books about the theology of death. Some are used as holy books for ancestor cults, some are gibberish he keeps in his own personal library... and some describe Oblivion so seductively the reader goes insane.
      • And when it comes to damnable books in Creation, there's none better than The Broken-Winged Crane, which often instills madness in those who read it and compels them to try demon summoning and Yozi worship for fun and profit.
    • In other Deathlord wonkiness, there's the Monstrance of Celestial Portion, the cages used by the Deathlords to put Solar Exaltations through the spin cycle of evil so they come out as Abyssal shards. Solars can't even look at the Monstrances without feeling violently ill.
    • There is also the Yozi called She Who Lives In Her Name - her true name traps lesser beings into endlessly repeating it should they ever hear more than a few words of it.
  • Deadlands has the Whateley family tree shrub. Looking at it is more than enough to drive someone insane. Then there's what the Whateleys are actually doing...
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • There is a weaponized brown note, in the form of "basilisk hacks", combinations of sensory input which essentially crash the human brain. Also, low exposures only cause seizures, but longer doses can cause Exurgent infection.
    • Pandora gates are noted to be odd enough that they hurt your head and cause some asyncs to wig out. Most of the solar system bases that contain gates keep them covered at all times... just to be on the safe side.
  • In the World of Warcraft tabletop RPG, Eredun, the language of demons, is said to be inherently evil and has a will of its own; it slowly rots the brain of any nondemon who speaks it, driving them mad and corrupting them towards evil. It's one of the reasons that warlock magic is considered so taboo, as it's required for the casting of spells.
  • Second and Third Edition Nobilis both have flavour text describing a book on the true nature of beauty. Because the book is a sacrosant object not meant for mortals, it kills the first to read any word within. The vignette wraps up with "It is a statement on the nature of beauty, and the nature of scholars, that [...] over half of its text had been read, understood, and transcribed."
    • Any picture of Ananda, Lord of Murder, the Infinite, and the Fourth Age, induces physical and/or psychological damage in those who see it, due to his incredible beauty. Actually seeing him in the flesh is worse.
  • Mage: The Awakening deals with vastly alien concepts that can confuse and bewilder mortal minds, but that's just from trying to grasp extraordinarily complex ideas. Intruders: Encounters with the Abyss suggests that Abyssal intrusions can take forms such as a poem or work of art. Banishing such intrusions is extremely difficult when merely perceiving them is deleterious.
    • A specific example from Intruders is Dark Angel Aphasia. At first it manifests as a strange obsession with the works of others with the condition. Then the sufferer begins to lose the ability to communicate in either speech or writing, but continues to obsess over whatever concept has caught their fancy. Eventually they become completely incapable of using language, and not long after that they either go comatose, instantly recover with no memory of what they were talking about, or disappear. And how does this condition spread? By reading something a sufferer wrote or talking to them before they lose the ability to communicate.
  • In Mutants & Masterminds, any attack can be made into one of these by adding the Sense-Dependent flaw.
  • Varanae generic RPG supplement Monstrum 1
    • The Garmen is an undead dog-spirit whose howls cause fear in all unintelligent animals, possibly causing them to flee.
    • The Sandmyrk is a small dog/rat hybrid. A pack of them can surround victims and begin a horrible howling that causes chilling fear in their targets, The terror is so great that animals will flee in panic and intelligent creatures have a good chance of doing the same. Even if a victim manages to resist the effect they are still severely penalized while fighting the Sandmyrks.
  • Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources
    • The Hell Cat's bone-rattling caterwauling causes intense fear in all creatures within 60 feet.
    • The Sun Demon's movement causes a squealing and groaning like tortured metal that inflicts a -5 penalty of the combat abilities of all creatures within 30 feet.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE has several:
    • Tren Krom and Anonna, Eldritch Abominations that can potentially drive people who see them insane.
    • The Klakk's scream, which can cure Shadow Matoran of their corruption.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon: Any sonic-based attack counts as this. The most potent of these would be Perish Song, a song that will make all listeners faint in three turns if they don't switch or have an immunity to sound attacks.
    • The Pokémon Mimikyu cover themselves in rags designed to look like Pikachu because their true form is so terrifying people and Pokémon can die just from looking at it, but they generally want to make friends despite this.
  • Demonica in Stretch Panic, a horror movie fanatic who was mystically transformed into a monster so horrifying that seeing her is fatal.
  • A Doom Rickroll mod features a boombox playing "Never Gonna Give You Up" that is deadly to enemies (it is actually a DeHackEd-patched executable that replaces the chainsaw sprite, and vastly increases its range and damage).
  • The Winter Windster in Wario World has an attack where its eyes turn red. The only way to avoid it is to keep Wario facing away from it while it flies around you. Fail to do so and it flies into Wario's mouth and inflates him like a balloon, then proceeds to hover him toward the spikes.
  • The Infocom Interactive Fiction game Hollywood Hijinx features an unfinished film called A Corpse Line; the reason it's unfinished is that it's so horrific, anyone who watches it, even its creator, dies of a massive heart attack.
  • Condemned 2: Bloodshot makes use of this. In fact, it's the main plot point of the whole series — the conspiracy responsible for the homeless population of the City going insane relies on sounds that, when heard/felt, have effects ranging from minor cranial hemorrhaging, causing omnicidal psychosis which just happens to coincide with protecting the conspiracy — and did I mention they're only omnicidal to people who are not Influenced? — to causing heads to explode — for emitters and your average conspirator, just birds, while the main character can generate sounds that explode human heads.
  • In one of the first Visual Novels, Shizuku, people in a certain Japanese city were driven insane by "doku denpa", "poisonous radio waves". Because of the game's popularity, the word "denpa" entered the otaku lexicon, and is now used to refer to a particular genre of Moe electro-pop songs. The connection to the game - and to this trope - is fairly obvious to anyone who's actually heard one of those songs.
  • Mystia Lorelei from the Touhou series has an unusual variation on this trope: her singing can cause night-blindness.
  • In Corpse Party, reading all five of the victim's memoirs will have you performing whatever acts the person who wrote them did. Yoshiki will cannibalize Ayumi if you read all five, and Satoshi can be forced into a lobotomized state.
  • The game Rez was purposefully designed to confuse the player's neural processing of sensory input.
  • The (possibly) fictional game Polybius is attributed with the power to mess up the brain causing amnesia, nightmares and death.
  • This is the implied way Harps kill in Final Fantasy — in the earlier versions, visible music notes stream towards the enemy and cause damage.
  • In Loom, the Big Bad mentions a legend that says that anyone who looks under the hood of a member of the Weaver's Guild will die instantly. The main character (a Weaver himself) is uncertain as to the veracity of this legend, but late in the game, one of the Big Bad's henchmen succumbs to curiosity...
    • Playing the game in hard mode lets the player actually see this happening. In any other mode, the game cuts away to another scene for a few seconds, then back to the main character, who is now mysteriously alone and completely unscathed.
    • In fact, the basic premise of most of this game could be considered a Brown Note. Singing or playing certain sequences of notes (called "drafts") can have a wide variety of effects on reality, from the innocuous (Dyeing) to the beneficial (Healing) to the horrific (Unmaking).
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Tear's Fonic Hymns are songs that have a myriad of effects, ranging from putting everyone that hears it to sleep (Nightmare) to a mass healer (Revitalize) to summoning beams of firey death (Judgment).
    • It's also implied that all magic in that game is some sound- "Oh Admonishing Melody,...".
    • The seventh fonon which allows fonist such as Tear to use healing spells is the fonon for sound and can cause healing, most magic and a hyperresonance which can teleport people into new locations and destroy countries.
    • Similarly, in the Tales of Symphonia OVA, Colette begins singing some creepy song that kills an army of Mooks in the second episode. (Given it knocks her unconscious its likely her spell, "Sacrifice".)
  • Ys I and II has a corridor in Darm Tower where evil organ music is played that damages Adol. You must break the pillar on the balcony that is piping in the music to advance.
    • The Devil's Corridor is also an obstacle in Ys Origin. Each player character must nullify the music with a character-specific method in order to proceed.
  • The MOTHER series has a lot of these. Examples include singing Giegue into submission in the first game, Frank saying something nasty in the second, or Lucky's bass in Mother 3.
  • At one point in Forum Warz, you're hit by a Brown Note through your speakers which causes you to shit yourself into unconsciousness, although the intended effect was death. Later on in Episode 3, you get the chance to beat down the rogue hacker/Light Yagami wannabe who used it on you and return the favor, giving you the powerful Death Note attack.
  • Quest for Glory IV has the Ultimate Joke (apparently about the wizard and the farmer's daughter, that John Rhys-Davies calls "a killer"). Telling it will make anyone laugh, no matter the situation. It's just that funny. The catch is that you can only use it once, under the principle that a joke is less funny the more often you hear it. You use it against Ad Avis in the final battle, to distract him long enough to prepare and unleash your killing blow.
  • Zelenin's Hymn in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
  • In Star Control II, learning too much about other dimensions draws the attention of some rather nasty Eldritch Abominations.
  • The Correspondence — a mysterious ancient alphabet whose purpose nobody knows for surenote  — in Fallen London can drive you insane, or even cause your eyes to bleed or your hair to catch fire. And putting any more than six of its "letters" in a single object will quickly teach you that even lead can burn. And you can play around with it in the most unsafe manner, even making Correspondence symphonies.
    • Sunless Sea, in the same universe, proves it can only get worse: When wielded by creatures that can actually speak it (like Lorn-Flukes and Mt. Nomad), it can sink battleships. There's also Irrigo, a color that resembles a particularly intense violet, that basically destroys your memories with prolonged exposure. Places with enough Irrigo will cause the body to grow bone over its eye sockets to blind the person as a desperate safety measure. While the Neath has another six exclusive colors, some even holding their own strange properties, only Irrigo is this dangerous. And finally, there's the simpler writings that simply strike blows into your sanity, give you terrible nightmares and make people start screaming and clawing at their eyes. Pretty normal stuff in London, considering people tend to put these in their graffiti, to the point the police department needs to carry large carts full of acid to clean it up.
    • While it's fine for humans, "Pop Goes the Weasel" tends to cause weasels to explode quite spectacularly.
    • One event in Fallen London can lead to you unleashing a "torrent of vituperation" that causes fainting, makes two cats fall off the roof, and kills an elderly horse.
    • Sunless Skies: Without proper windows or just no windows at all to avoid looking at the dark, starry void outside, the High Wilderness will erode one's mind to nothing. Star-maddened people, usually found among bandits and explorers, are usually erratic and very violent.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, when Link reaches the source of the river in Ikana Valley, he is attacked by a ghost who plays an evil melody that drains his hearts.
    • When the aforementioned river starts flowing again, it activates the nearby Music Box House that scares away the surrounding undead by playing carnival music.
  • Near the entrance of the Bonus Dungeon of Baldur's Gate is an idle skeleton. Your tour guide explains that there was once an enchanted picture on one of the walls that caused whomever looked at it to continue gazing at for all time. That skeleton was one of its victims.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The eponymous Elder Scrolls can have a number of such effects on the reader. To an untrained reader, the contents of the Scrolls appear to be inert and incomprehensible symbols that vaguely resemble constellations. The "unguarded intellects," those who know what the Scrolls are and have some ability to read them, are immediately and irrevocably struck blind. Only those initiated into the mysteries of the Cult of the Ancestor Moth retain most of their sight after reading a Scroll and seeing the future. Unfortunately, there comes a day when even an Ancestor Moth cultist reads a Scroll for the last time, forcing them into retirement. In all cases, those who read, handle, or even merely study the Scrolls without ever actually using them have a tendency to go utterly insane with alarming regularity. The Dwemer built a machine to read the Scrolls and record its results, circumventing the nasty side effects, which is the target of a quest in Skyrim.
    • The series' dragons are ageless, possessing divine Aedric souls, and have a form of Resurrective Immortality. They are said to "have always been" and have no concept of life, death, or mortality. When mankind in ancient times was under threat from the dragons and their leader, Alduin, they prayed to the Divines for aid, and their prayers were answered by being taught to use the Thu'um, the dragon's own Language of Magic, against them. The mortals created their own Shout, Dragonrend, using the words JOOR (Mortal), ZAH (Finite), and FRUL (Temporary), all concepts which are inconceivable to dragons. In essence, it is a Brown Note that is ineffective against mere mortals, but causes dragons to be temporarily incapacitated with confusion. In Skyrim, Alduin returns and begins resurrecting the dragons. The Dragonborn must find a way to defeat Alduin and rediscovers the Dragonrend shout. The Graybeards warn the Dragonborn against learning Dragonrend because it was a weapon forged by hatred and fury directed at dragonkind. According to them, to learn a Word of Power is to take everything about it into your soul. Since their leader is a friendly dragon, the Graybeards understandably don't want anything to do with a Shout created by hatred directed at dragons. Some other Dragonshouts qualify as well, such as "RII VAAZ ZOL" and "GOL HA DOV."
  • In Exile III: Ruined World, the dragon Khoth has a book of puzzles so complicated that reading them will cause the PCs to become dumbfounded.
  • In Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly: The horror of looking into the Hellish Abyss causes the viewer to become blind. This happens to Mio in the 'Hellish Abyss' ending, as she looks down while trying to pull Mayu up. The kicker? That's the good ending (in the original version of the game, anyway).
  • In King's Quest VII, the player character dies if she looks at the undead Lady Tsepish's Nightmare Face.
  • In Anchorhead, continuing to read the Tome of Eldritch Lore in the church leads to a Non Standard Gameover where the protagonist goes insane, calmly smiling as she claws her eyes out.
  • In Mass Effect, this is why only strong willed individuals such as Shepard are able to withstand experiencing the Prothean Beacon and keep their sanity, as the sheer intensity of the vision has the potential to "destroy a lesser mind".
    • By Mass Effect 3, Indoctrination is believed to at least partly be a result of this, with infrasonic sound being used to render people vulnerable to suggestion. Additionally, the background material suggests that the Reaper Horn, the loud blaring sound produced by Reaper Destroyers and Dreadnoughts, is intended to induce panic in enemy forces by similar means. Developer commentary states that the sound engineers put quite a lot of research into what type of sounds instinctively frighten human beings, and combined them to make the Reaper Horn.
  • The Tomes of Eldritch Lore in the original Alone in the Dark (1992) will either weaken Carnby (Fragments from the Book of Abdul) or kill him dead (De Vermis Mysteriis) upon reading unless he is standing on the pentagram in the room where you find them.
  • The titular composition in Maestro: Music of Death kills anyone who hears it.
  • The first Breath of Fire I game gives the D.Hrt, which is a song that reduces the HP of any dragon who hears it to 1. It will immediately waste Zog or Sara, and bring the main character's HP down too since he's also a dragon.
  • The advanced forms of the Trumpy viruses in the Mega Man Battle Network series can induce status effects like confusion and blindness or immobilize you while they play their music. They can be summoned to mess up your opponents should you obtain their corresponding battle chips.
  • Kirby is an unfortunate combination of a very loud singer and a horrifically bad singer. For these reasons, the microphone copy power (as well as the mike item from the first game) instantly wipes out all non-boss enemies on the screen.
  • In Fallout 3, Vault 92's experiment involved Mind Control via subliminal messages in white noise, which ultimately drove the inhabitants insane.
    • The mesmertron is a weaponized brown note which either drives someone into a homocidal rage, killing allies and enemies alike, causes their head to explode or makes them completely docile and obey any command given to them by anyone. This last one makes it the weapon you get when enslaving people.
  • One of Eddie's solos in Brütal Legend is called "Face Melter," which causes massive damage to nearby enemies; killing basic infantry shows you the literal effect of a face-melting guitar solo.
  • Lost Eden has the Instruments of Fear. Despite appearing to be nothing more than a trumpet, a drum, and a bell, they produce a noise which forces the Tyranns to flee when played by the right male party members.
  • In South Park: The Stick of Truth, one of Jimmy the Bard's abilities is to play the Brown Note. If done successfully, he can make the enemies shit blood.
  • In Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death the villain's sax playing paralyzes anyone who hears it.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 8, Sun Jian's new weapon, the Nine Rings Blade, releases loud, powerful soundwaves from its' rings that destroy surrounding enemies.
  • Turns out that the songs of the Intoners in Drakengard 3 work this way. They can lead to anything from insanity to straight up Body Horror. It gets worse if one can no longer hear them.
  • The Dreambeats of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, which can put anyone who isn't a Pi'illo, Star Sprite, or Nightmare Bat to sleep. Bowser defends himself against them by covering his ears, though no reason is given as to why Mario and Luigi don't do the same.
  • The Literature in Shin Megami Tensei IV causes the dwellers of Mikado to Go Mad from the Revelation that there exists lifestyles other than what exists in Mikado; Casualries (i.e. the working class) in particular develop a sense of resentment against the privileges and advantages that Luxurors (i.e. the upper class) have over Casualries. The madness is so horrific that it results in readers transforming into bloodthirsty demons. And it's not even any sort of supernatural literature; it's ordinary, modern-day human literature. The shock that the people of Mikado get from reading it is that bad.
  • In Dishonored, Overseer Music Boxes prevent Corvo from using magic in their vicinity, as well as inflicting damage themselves with their sound waves.
  • The Killer Wail superweapon in Splatoon emits an ultrasonic wave when used; this wave will scatter the atoms of any Inkling who happens to be in front of it. note  DJ Octavio uses it relatively early in the fight with him; it's no less powerful.
  • The basilisk bug from Team Fortress 2 let you do this to your teammates (and enemy spies).
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain concludes the series with a superweapon designed to turn common languages into Brown Notes. And the Big Bad Skull Face designed one for English.
  • Lady Shiori in Sinjid has a paralyzing stare that does tremendous damage and immobilizes you if you happen to be looking in her direction. The paralysation and most of the damage can be negated by looking away from her, but you'll still take damage from it either way.
  • Discworld II has an unusual example where this is caused by attractiveness: examining the Elf Queen leaves Rincewind paralysed for hours. The consequences are fairly mild as this trope goes; the worst thing that happens is that he ends up getting thrown out of the Elves' dimension and having to get back in.
  • In Aporia: Beyond The Valley, the dark specter haunting the Valley can't approach and kill you if you take refuge among the blue-lit standing stones. Nonetheless, if you linger to watch it creeping through the woods from the stones' shelter, distressing music starts up, your controls freeze for a second or two as if you're paralyzed by terror, and frosty patterns cloud your field of view, hinting that your eyes are being impaired or flash-frozen just from looking at it. (Luckily, both effects end if it leaves or you do.)
  • According to The Secret World, one of the many variants of the Filth takes the form of unnatural sounds and eldritch graffiti that can cause Filth infection just as easily as exposure to its usual oily black goo form.
    • Similarly, infected monks up in the Carpathian Mountains were supposedly capable of singing hymns that killed small animals within earshot.
    • Hearing Lilith's name spoken by its owner results in an immediate panic attack in any human hearing it. Supposedly, her other seventeen names can do even nastier things. In fact, even remembering her isn't safe, because memories of her can supposedly act with a will of their own inside the human brain.
    • According to the Mask of Kan'ami, some of Inbeda's more flowery expletives have to be very carefully translated from the demonic tongue into English, because a literal translation would boil human bowels and cause blood to leak from the walls.
    • Played for laughs when players explore QBL Media HQ and discover that they have been keeping the cursed videotape from Ringu in their archives, and a private showing has just killed everyone in the boardroom.
  • A noisemaker serves as this in Yoku's Island Express, which you must use to to quite literally scare the crap out of a bat to obtain an item. If you're feeling sadistic, you can repeat until the feces are piled high.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night has Ea acting as this for Shirou. On seeing it he instinctively attempts to use Structural Grasp on it, but due to its divine origins and composition his mind overloads and he temporarily loses all senses. However, Shirou can apply Structural Grasp to plenty of other objects that were "merely" made by gods; Ea, however, was forged from the unlivable hell that was the earliest days of the earth and predates the very concept of "Sword" — it can only be called a sword because the world has no term for what Ea is other than "Ea". And in a setting where age=power...
  • The titular Saya in Saya no Uta has this effect on most people who see her. Fuminori, who perceives her as a Girl in White because of his extreme (and possibly supernaturally influenced) agnosia is the only exception.

    Web Animation 
  • In the world of The Demented Cartoon Movie, saying the word "Blah" sometimes causes your head to pop off of your neck, although the exact rules regarding this are inconsistent. Saying or producing a recording of the word "Zeekyboogydoog" causes a nuclear explosion at the location the sound originated from. Saying the word "Gleegsnagzip" causes the entire planet to explode. And saying "Kamikaze Watermelon" cues a visit from Fooby, the Kamikaze Watermelon.
    • "(Fanfare plays) Wheeee! (splat)"
  • In YouTube Poop, an Off-Model picture of Luigi, nicknamed "Weegee", has gradually developed this power. Anyone who looks at him for too long will become him. It's been used as a metaphor for how memes spread.
  • According to the Homestar Runner cartoon "Fall Float Parade", Strong Sad goes into an unexplained trance whenever he hears the phrase "covered bridges". At least until Strong Bad starts hitting him with nunchucks.
    • In this same series, there's the Creepy Painting Strong Mad keeps in his closet, which depicts a gargoyle-like creature named Rocoulm who says "Come on in here!" and causes anyone who sees the painting to get "the jibblies."
    • And apparently, a drawing of a one-legged puppy nicknamed "Li'l Brudder" can make Homestar break down in tears.
    Homestar: Li'l Brudder! I... I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING WITH MY LIFE! I'm thinking of getting into male modeling... or maybe high finance... I JUST DON'T KNOW!!
  • In Dick Figures Red finds an adorable Kitten he dubs "Kitty Amazing" (because that's what he is). The kitten is so adorable it melts the hearts of all who look at it... Blue recently had eye surgery so he is spared, but no explanation is given for why Red is immune.
  • In the Garry's Mod video "Scout's Amazing Adventures (Part 3/6)", Heavy starts playing "Friday", which is so awful that it sends Soldier into a series of contortions until he eventually explodes.
    • Downloadable GMod weapon "Erectin' a Boom" is a radio that ignites anyone who hears it, and then their head explodes shortly after.
    • Similarly, a mod for Doom 2 replaces the chainsaw with a radio that, when played, rickrolls enemies. The enemies' sprites have even been altered so that they cover their ears.

    Web Comics 
  • For a one-shot gag in Sam & Fuzzy, here, Fuzzy creates a Brown Note video to psychologically break Sid, another character. It might have worked if Sid hadn't run away.
  • In MegaTokyo, the Necrowombicon was probably a Brown Note, because Largo's life can be divided in two. Before reading it, he was just a superconfident, super-spirited hardcore gamer; after reading it, he became obsessed with zombie rampages, though that Miho was the "3V1|_ Z0MB13 QU33N", and suddenly started seeing the world through the glasses of B Movies, shooter games and online RPGs. But if we consider that Largo is also a big Cloudcuckoolander, it might as well have been caused by something else.
    • This happened about the time the authors were transitioning from a loosely connected series of jokes to a more comprehensive narrative, so the clichés Largo was built on were ramped up overnight to Cloudcuckoolander status to help lead into his plot arcs. It's later mentioned that he's always been this way. In addition, the "other" Largo was becoming less influential on the comic's creation by that point — if he had not already been completely forced out — which meant it was also the point where the Largo character was being written by the other author/artist, who had vastly different tastes in humour and writing style.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage explains that anyone who sees his face will go insane. This happens to a random passer-by which comes back to bite the Light Warriors much later. Later on, an as-of-yet unnamed Dark God tells Black Mage that hearing his true voice will cause a person's brain to eat itself.
  • Starslip has the sculpture known as "The Spine of the Cosmos". Looking at it by itself is harmless, but when its artistic context is described to the viewer, they are either granted ultimate understanding of the universe or driven insane — either way, becoming a mindless zombie. The insectoid aliens known as Cirbozoids are the only intelligent species immune to this, due to their inability to understand art.
    • Also, Cirbozoids can kill people by crying.
    • The context involves Yeats' poem The Second Coming
    • It is forever robbed of this ability, however, when its artistic context is irreparably changed by Mr. Jinx wearing it as a hat, and is thereafter described by at least one character as "the dumbest thing i've ever seen".
  • Librarian Dewey develops a book talk guaranteed to make people faint in Unshelved!
    • That's just one of the talks he's got. He has, if memory serves, book talks that make people nauseous, break out in a rash, and speak Urdu, among what must be others.
  • In RPG World, it's hinted that the four Mystic Keys are these. At least it was strongly hinted that reading the Tiger Book was what made Jeff go crazy and turn evil.
  • Kreepy Kat
  • In The Order of the Stick, the Big Bad Xykon kills a room full of Paladins armed only with a super-bouncy ball. (Which has a magic symbol that cause insanity in anyone who look at it inscribed on it.)
    • Vaarsuvius prepared Explosive Runes this morning.
    • In #859, Durkon casts Holy Word, described under Dungeons & Dragons, on the Linear Guild, banishing Sabine and striking everyone else deaf. The only member to come out unscathed is Tarquin, whose hit dice are apparently higher than Durkon's caster level. The deafness also affected Belkar, causing an interesting result when Nale cast suggestion on him to get him to stop stabbing him. Roy, who came up with the whole plan, snarks:
      Roy: It's not a bug, it's a feature.
  • This comic from The Parking Lot Is Full describes such an occurrence.
  • Lampooned in one series of Nodwick strips, the Evil Sorceress She Who Must Be Obeyed has obtained a written copy of That Which Man Is Not Meant to Know, and she is smart enough not to read it, because she realizes that this Trope must apply if no-one is meant to know it. However, after taking the heroes prisoner, Piffany assures her that only men are not meant to know it; women can safely read it, because it's something that they know already. When she reads it, not revealing it to the readers, the fact that such a secret would be so devastating to men almost makes her bust a gut laughing.
  • From Freefall:
    • A unique tone not reproducable by nature is generated by a device that can make Florence Ambrose, a genetically modified red wolf, fall asleep or wake up. Given previous negative experience with similarly modified simians, having an "off" switch" on an experimental design is probably not all that bad idea, particularly when that "design" is a based on a predator.
    • Sam's real er... face, which he theorizes triggers some sort of nurturing instinct in humans, since any time someone sees it they immediately disgorge their stomach contents. This is a big part of why he wears a full-body environment suit with an animated mechanical face, beyond issues with lower partial pressure of Oxygen.
      • At one point, Helix creates a sculpture of Sam. A person who sees it has to be physically restrained from removing his own eyes because otherwise he "might see it again!"
    • The Sticky Notes of Doom, which cause any robot who reads them while connected to the commnet to download an upgrade that lobotimizes them.note 
      Edge: "Who wrote this note, H.P. Lovecraft?"
  • In Jayden and Crusader, the character Third can apparently utter proofs of the non-existence of God so powerful Priests have heart attacks because of the conflict of their profession and the utter logic of the proof. We aren't told what this proof is.
  • For Cloud in Ansem Retort, "One-Winged Angel" is this: it makes him flash back to to Sephiroth.
    Cloud: The bad man with the sword is taking over my mind again!
  • Ubersoft employes were once shown only the shadow of a new Apple product, since it's beauty drove a small percentage of the population insane when they looked directly at it. When asking how big a percentage, the answer was approximately the same small percentage of the population that had been allowed to look at it directly.
  • Necessary Monsters: Jonathon tells the man on the safehouse front desk something that causes him to pull his own skull apart.
  • Rowasu of Juathuur makes his sword screech by draggin it on the ground to confuse his enemies.
  • In Homestuck, Feferi has to continually keep her lusus fed, or it'll cry out and every troll in the galaxy will die from the subsequent psychic shockwave known as the "VAST GLUB". Worse, since Feferi prototyped her lusus, the Black King of their session gained this ability as well, which necessitated an army of thousands of time-travelling Aradiabots to psychically suppress lest the King instantly win the battle.
  • In Poharex, Eperok uses "The Call", a high-frequency sound(which he refers to as magic), to force any dinosaur that hears it to come and aid him in battle. He only used it once in order to distract Leay, allowing Poharex to get the upper hand.
  • Art in Sequential Art, aspiring to the full Mad Artist glory, "created an image that combines all known fetishes".
  • A Miracle of Science has the book "Crank Theories on Robotics", that is a known vector of Science-Related Memetic Disorder.
  • Girl Genius:
    • The Doom Bell painfully knocks out all those who hear it for the first time. Agatha on the other hand, only seems mildly surprised.
      Mama Gkikka: Keeds today. Kent even take a leedle existential despair.
    • Mama was surprised, though, that Gil found the sound "beautiful" as it meant Agatha was still alive and fighting. It's been implied that Gil may be related to the Jagermonsters, which may account for his immunity.
  • Draconic, the Language of Magic in Nahast, drives people mad if they don't learn it properly.
  • 70-Seas has "Jensen's Ye Olde Horror of the Deep", an Eldritch Abomination in a bottle that causes pants-wetting terror on anyone looking at it.
  • Vexxarr has the Schlumpoid Sploorfix, whose Livejournal entries have caused AI to explode at how melancholy they are. Even his casual observations about life have caused otherwise rigidly-programmed ship drones to consider him a threat to the host vessel and left him unceremoniously dumped in a waste bin.
  • Axe Cop has a band called The Axe. Their music kills bad guys because it's poisonous to them.
  • In Bruno the Bandit this was more or less the effect of Shub-Megawrath's singing.
  • In "The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" arc of Skin Horse Nick was assigned to compile a sound-based weapon against biologicals. It knocks out the entire building, though the staff of Project Skin Horse, being either robots, undead, canine, or a former werewolf, recover before the rest. At one point Tip calls it a Brown Note.

    Web Original 
  • Brennus: The sotry arc Shrouded In Dread was all about the New Lenston heroes fightin a villain calling herself Hastur (she named herself after the literary character), whose power caused anyone who saw her face to go violently insane, undergo really nasty Body Horror, and eventually die painfully. They manage to fight her anyway with some high-tech goggles, but not before she causes a lot of death and destruction. It was on of the darkest story lines in a story that's not exactly all that optimistic to begin with.
  • The SCP Foundation has enough of these to call them "cognitohazards" — a syndrome or behavior that can be transmitted by means of sensorial information, such as pictures and sounds. It becomes a "memetic hazard" if the person affected can reproduce the Brown Note so that it spreads to other people, or an "infohazard" if it can be spread through a simple statement about it. Mind affecting Brown Notes can often be cured by the application of Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • A "Langford-Berryman Memetic Kill Agent" triggers a fatal neurally-induced heart attack in any "un-innoculated" personnel trying to view the SCP-001 entry. Try your luck here.
    • SCP-224 ("Grandfather Clock"). When the clock chimes, anyone in range of the sound will undergo Rapid Aging.
    • SCP-298 is an Ominous Pipe Organ that causes the blood of anyone who hears it to be expelled from their body and gain the consistency of cellulose, and paralyzes them to stop them from escaping. Believed to be entirely sonic in nature, as people who can't hear it are not affected. Active noise cancellation technology, however, is only partially effective, so deafness may not be as effective as soundproofing. Also if the organ is used for parts, organs repaired with those parts may start to take on diluted forms of the originals' powers...
    • SCP-332 is a marching band that plays every 48 hours, or when someone gets too close. People hearing the band play will be overtaken by an intense desire to acquire an instrument and join the band, or pretend to play an instrument if they cannot find one, and play until they pass out from exhaustion and are subsequently trampled by the band members.
    • Perhaps the most dangerous is SCP-370. The first victim had to actually look at the thing - that's all it takes - but it's so contagious that knowing too much about what it looks like or what happens to the infected is enough to become infected. Finding out what could and couldn't be safely known of it was something that happened the hard way to its discoverers. Some of those infected cannot help trying to give out information that will spread the effect and even secretly edit documents previously thought harmless, though of course precautions are taken against this.note  Because of this, we are absolutely positively mostly sure reading the SCP writeup won't affect you, and therefore almost sure the words you're reading right now do not mean that You Are Already Dead.
      • The object itself is a key. That is the only thing safe to know about what it looks like. If you learn anything else about it you are infected.
    • SCP-413 ("Endless Garage"). SCP-413 gives off a low-frequency sound inside itself that harms human navigation abilities, balance and short term memory. Prolonged exposure can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, vertigo, anxiety and claustrophobia. Luckily, the effect will wear off after the victim leaves SCP-413.
    • SCP-571 ("Self-Propagating Infectious Pattern"). Observing this pattern causes the unlucky victim to have a complusion to draw the aforementioned pattern, using any methods available, up to and including their own blood. Once the victim copies it, they urge other people to look at their work, triggering the cycle again. The site that contains it is in an isolated location, since a population of a massive size becoming infected could cause The End of the World as We Know It. One of the worst parts about it is that the anomalous effect occurs in the pattern itself, not just the medium it's on, which means that anyone can scribble down a random pattern of lines and get infected.
    • SCP-628 ("Flute Copse"). A grove of hollow sycamore trees with their tops broken off, they can play music like an organ when the wind blows. Their music includes infrasound (AKA subsonics) that can cause disorientation and the emotions of fear, awe, sorrow and anxiety in those listening to it.
    • SCP-632 is a species of spider. The combination of the sight of them, the feel of them crawling on your skin and smelling the chemicals they emit will cause baby versions of the spiders to grow in your brain.
    • SCP-701 is a play very reminiscent of The King in Yellow. There's a 37% chance that the audience watching/listening to the play will go insane and start violently rioting. In a small number of cases the insanity is permanent.
    • SCP-1127 is a collection of short films that all permanently alter the minds of any who view them:
      • Were Clowns Always Yellow?, a film where a Nazi Monster Clown rants at viewers for several minutes about humour, interspersed with him executing people. After watching the film, viewers will find disturbing things funny, and funny things disturbing. note 
      • Crazy Where? You Are, a film where a little girl slowly dismembers her teddy bear with a knife while ranting about how violence is the answer. It turns people into hyper-sociopaths who often engage in injuring others out of "curiosity", and usually have to be outright terminated after exposure because they pose too great a risk to others.
      • All? Comes With Yesterday, a film where a woman wearing a Victorian gown and a metallic mask which is stitched onto her face narrates over images of machinery and other artifacts, reciting random words and at one point repeating the word "liar" over and over. Viewers develop an extreme phobia of pretty much anything man-made, especially technology, and have to be institutionalised.
      • Why Are You Crying?, a film where a leather-clad man narrates over pornography and sexual imagery. Any viewers lose all interest in pornography and develop obsessions with various creepy, harmful, and criminal paraphilias.
    • SCP-1875 sends emails and modifies incident reports with these. Considering the situation, it's quite understandable.
    • SCP-2927 ("Soundspots"). SCP-2927 is two tones generated at 75 dB at frequencies of 16.8 kHz and 27 Hz. Anyone who listens to them suffers from dread and unease, which get stronger the closer the person gets to the source of the sound. Anyone who approaches within two meters will permanently experience night terrors, insomnia and a strong fear of prolonged noises.
  • Orion's Arm:
    • Neuro-fractal patterns can induce all sorts of reactions from calmness to nausea. In some places fractals that promote immune health are used to prevent populations from getting sick.
    • Thus providing (cold) comfort to fans of Langford and his basilisks. In fact, Orion's Arm also features the Medusa Fractal. A hypothetical mathematical figure which... sets up a feedback loop in the brain... sending them into a permanent catatonic state. It is also sometimes referred to as a "flatline fractal" or (after the Julia set it is said to resemble) "the brain-eating basilisk".
  • Episode three of The Black Tapes podcast is about the Unsound. It's supposed to be the sound of an Archdemon beckoning the listener to invite it into their world, and anyone who listens to it is supposed to die within a year.
  • From The Onion: "New Study Too Frightening To Release". A scientific study whose contents must be suppressed or the knowledge within would likely cause "the total breakdown of societal order, including the abandonment of the current political and economic system, rioting, looting, mass suicide and, quite possibly, global thermonuclear war." The head of the team investigating then killed himself, and many of the other researchers "cannot be accounted for".
  • In Star Harbor Nights, a close-up look at the insanity causing molecule in Rhyme's blood at just the right angle causes viewers to scream until they pass out.
  • An Easter Egg in the Sonic Shorts collection volume 2 features an extremely terrifying version of the Tails Doll that allegedly causes grown men to scream like a little girl. Watch at your risk!
    • And then, he comes back in the fifth one. Enjoy!
  • Parodied in College Saga, where singing a corny song was the only possibility to defeat the Chocolate Tree.
  • In H-M Brown's Shell, using some type of filtration method like a peep hole or a television to see the Eldritch Abomination, will still lead you to madness.
  • The Creepypasta Smile.jpg, an image of a dog that causes the viewer to have bizarre nightmares.
    • In case you're wondering what it looks like and are resistant to the Shmuck Bait, it's a picture of a husky with demonic eyes and a photoshopped grin on it's face. Said nightmares involve the dog telling you to spread the word, meaning that you have to send it to someone else in order to stop the nightmares.
  • The "full version" of the Creepypasta video "Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv" is said to drive the viewer to insanity.
  • The Choir from The Fear Mythos can distort sounds...and make them shatter glass, rupture eardrums, and hemorrhage people's brains. Luckily, most of the time they seem content to simply drive you to suicide, but if you piss them off...
  • The Doug theme tune to The Nostalgia Critic. He called the resulting brain tumor "Pork Chop".
  • Many of the eponymous creatures in S T R A N G E R S have effects on people simply by being in their presence. For instance, contact with the gazedrene causes a spike in violence and aggression around it, and those who live with the quiet simdroni will grow more and more antisocial until they loose their ability to communicate altogether.
  • Roko's basilisk - the idea of a superintelligent AI in the future that retroactively punishes those who knew of its existence and did nothing to help it come to fruition (you, dear Troper) - is a rather esoteric example originating on Less Wrong. A Real Life example to some futurists and singularitarians, leading to it being banned from Less Wrong's forums.
  • The Slender Man's presence causes Alien Geometries, an Incurable Cough of Death, Laser-Guided Amnesia, insanity, paranoia and death of the suicidal variety, assuming He (or one of his proxies) doesn't kill you himself.
  • In the Whateley Universe, sonic weapons are common, but ones which cause serious injury (as opposed to disorientation or nausea) are illegal in most places because they aren't directional and cause too much collateral damage.
    • Jericho's wardrobe. In order to distract people from his teammates' inhuman appearances, he deliberately wears clothing so garish, mis-matched, and ugly that it can cause those who see him to be nauseated. He's even weaponized the effect: his 'undershirt of doom' once stopped two armed mercenaries in their tracks.
  • The Message: The titular Message is one. It's included in the podcast before anyone figures it out, but it doesn't always take effect.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time Princess Monster Wife repeatedly inadvertently knocks Finn and Jake unconscious with her appearance, even when they use mirrors to avoid this. She also made a penguin puke, again inadvertently.
  • Kim Possible: Singing "Rock-A-Bye Baby" instantly puts Rufus to sleep.
  • South Park has:
    • The Brown Note itself appears in the episode "World Wide Recorder Concert", here referred to as "the brown noise" and said to be "92 cents below the lowest octave of Eb", but shown as a low Eb on the treble clef in written music. Unusually, the note is heard: it's a low tuba note, which can be somehow produced with a simple recorder. By accident note , the 4 million kids at the titular concert end up playing the note, which makes everyone in the world crap their pants.
    • "Now, as you all know, the Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka can supposedly kill you with one horrid gaze. If a person even so much as looks into the frog's eyes, they can be paralyzed, or even die."
    • The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs, a novel within the series made by the boys on an episode with the same title, is more of a Technicolor Note, as it causes everyone who reads it (with the possible exception of the boys themselves, who just laugh) to vomit from the Squicky parts (which we never hear). Even attempting to talk about them causes the same reaction, which is why we never actually hear them; any attempt at discussion is always cut off by vomiting. Apparently, nobody has gotten past the first paragraph without this reaction, and in a game show where you try to listen to the audio books as long as you can, one person threw up after 2 seconds. The twist of all this is that despite this reaction, it is agreed-upon in-universe to be an excellent work of literature.
    • Another, Lord of the Rings-themed episode, has the porno Backdoor Sluts 9, which inflicts Mind Rape on Token and Butters.
    • Ugly Bob, the ugliest man in Canada (or so we are told). He's so ugly that he has to wear a paper bag over his head, and anyone who looks at him turns to stone. In the episode "Royal Pudding" his ugliness is used to defeat the monster that stole the Canadian princess.
  • Mightyman and Yukk is one of the Three Shorts of the late-70s Plastic Man cartoon. The titular Yukk is a dog whose face is so ugly that it is continually concealed by a doghouse; when he takes it off, whoever is looking at it would run away in terror, and it could even cause inanimate objects to break.
  • In the pilot episode of the revival... episode of Biker Mice from Mars, the Big Bad throws his little evil brother against a wall, and the sound of his claws scratching makes their prisoners wince and cry.
  • Dethklok's music on Metalocalypse has some unique effects, but they may be supernatural in origin. In "Dethkomedy", it's mentioned that the song "Go Into the Water" caused a million people to go into the water and drown (although Ofdensen successfully argued in court that it was their own fault since the album that song was on was 'intended for fish only'). They summon tornadoes in "Bluesklok", a troll in "Dethtroll", and a large amount of fish in "The Metalocalypse Has Begun". All the while, they remain mostly oblivious to this ability, often acting just as surprised as everybody else at the results. Every time Skwisgaar starts to play a solo, PEOPLE START DYING! Duncan Hills Coffee anyone?
  • In Justice League, the supervillain Ace of the Royal Flush Gang is a human Brown Note. Simply looking into her eyes, even through a television broadcast, can lead to delusions and eventual catatonia. If she really puts her mind to it, the result can last long after she's left or even become permanent. Eventually, her power expands until she is a full-blown Reality Warper.
  • The Smurfs
    • One episode dealt with a magic flute that caused anyone who heard its song to fall into a permanent magical sleep. What was the cure for this curse? Harmony Smurf's trumpet playing, a racket that was so bad that it could "wake the dead".
    • Grandpa Smurf's foe Nemesis was a wizard whose face had become so hideously deformed in an accident that no-one could bear to look at him, either fainting or fleeing in horror if they did so.
  • American Dad!'s Oscar Gold, an inside-series film created by the villain Tearjerker (Roger, in a Bond-style parody) so sad you will cry to death. It's about a Jewish, mentally retarded, alcoholic boy, in hiding from the Nazis (Anne Frank style), whose puppy has cancer... and then the pup dies and Oscar walks and jumps in joy while he drags the dead doggie body...
    • There's also an even sadder film, consisting of several hours of a baby chimp trying to revive its dead mother, but fortunately it's never released.
    • As another American Dad! example, Steve Smith gets lost in the desert and meets God, who took the form of Angelina Jolie. When Steve asks to see her boobs, she agrees, though warns him that staring into the rack of infinite wisdom has been known to drive men insane.
    • It's never stated, but it is implied, with the Golden Turd. While it does have a lot of monetary value, seeing as how it's solid gold and encrusted with valuable gems, it drives the people who find it to do some insane things to keep it or to prevent others from having it, implying that it does have a more drastic immediate effect on the finders. Let's see, the first man who finds it is with his friend, and he quickly kills the friend because he doesn't like the idea of sharing the value. He regrets it immediately and kills himself. The next person who finds it is a long-time ethical cop who takes it from a crime scene two weeks before retirement, putting his pension at risk. He immediately regrets it, but not before his wife finds out. The cop decides to return it and his wife ACTS like she agrees, but then we see her put poison in his tea... The turd ends several episodes later powering up Roger´s UFO so he can escape the war on Earth between Heaven and Hell forces after the Apocalypse, but not before taking Stan and Jesus itself as passengers to the Anti-Christ's hideout...transforming it along the series from an Artifact of Attraction to some sort of Chekhov's Gag.
  • In Grossology villain Lance Boil uses a brown note to make everyone crap their pants. Heroes Ty and Abby wear a special device that make them immune to its effects. The downside is the devices make it look as though they are wearing diapers.
  • Futurama has quantum lichens, such as Langdon Cobb. Anybody who sees one, even in a photograph, would be drained of their lifeforce, which it would then collect for nourishment. Cobb becomes an actor because the adulation given to him as a celebrity is enough to sustain him without draining anyone.
  • An episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold has Blue Beetle use a sonic gun with incapacitating effects; he and Batman argue about its side effects.
  • An episode of The Transformers, "Carnage in C Minor", features a race of aliens who can produce resonant tones which can cause a variety of effects, from healing to destroying stuff. When working in concert, several such aliens can create a harmonic effect that can be quite devastating, and the Decepticon Soundwave attempts to record this sound to use as a weapon.
  • In World of Quest, saying "witch" near Shrieks causes them to...well, shriek. Because they have a long history with witches.(Which is entirely folk tales.) In one episode, Quest says they shouldn't use the W-word. Prince Nestor goes to the Shrieks and says a sentence ending in "...the W-word. You know, witch." causing the entire city to shriek. Then again, he's pretty stupid.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick once wrote a song so horrible that a band died while recording it. SpongeBob and Patrick receive the record at their funeral, then when they play it from atop a radio tower, it causes the town to riot. (They assume it's their fan club.) Despite the In-Universe reactions, the song itself isn't so bad.
  • Used in Gargoyles when Demona used a spell broadcast via TV to turn everybody who saw and heard the recitation into stone by night. Those who didn't catch the transmission as well as those who did but were deaf or blind and thus logically couldn't both see and hear it were unaffected.
  • The first season of Code Lyoko has an episode where XANA distributes an MP3 called "Glad to be Bad" through the Internet that sends listeners into a coma. It's so much this trope that when Yumi picks up a set of headphones playing the song indistinctly, she's completely thrown for a loop and just barely misses hitting a coma.
  • On one episode of Family Guy Peter is warned not to watch a video that kills anyone who watches it. He scoffs and takes the Schmuck Bait, and promptly keels over. The film? Mannequin. A certain amount of Truth in Television, to be sure....
    • On another episode Quagmire tells Peter a dirty joke with the punchline "P.S.: Your vagina's in the sink!", which Peter finds so funny he poops himself every time he hears it. So Quagmire and Joe keep telling him the punchline through various means (texting him, having Freddy Krueger tell him it in a dream).
    Peter: Stop it, you guys, you're ruining all my clothes!
  • In the animated version of Fraggle Rock, Boober finds a scroll that holds "The Funniest Joke in the Universe", which is so funny that anyone who hears it will laugh forever, literally. While most of the main cast falls victim to the curse, Boober does not, because he does not "get" the joke, leaving him the only one able to lead the search for an enchanted spring that can cure them by erasing the joke from their memory. He succeeds in the end... And right in time, because then he finally does understand the joke. Fortunately for him, the spring is nearby.
  • In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, Shake's horrific self-written song "Nude Love" forces the Insanoflex to kill itself upon hearing it.
  • In one episode of Fish Hooks, Bea attempts to make friends with Albert by playing the violin. Her playing is so bad Albert's face cracks and his organs fly out.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode "Stars in Their Eyes" established that certain sounds could disrupt 'Moonman' Koopa's technology. In order to save the Marios from being blown up by Koopa's spaceship, the quirks- an alien race Koopa enslaved- use their double-snouts to toot a kazoo-version of the Zelda theme.
    Koopa: You call that music? Stop that racket!
    • In the sequel series, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, the episode "Do the Koopa" centers around the Doom Dancer Music Box, an artifact that, when cranked, causes everyone to start dancing ((including plants and statues). When Bully Koopa gets it, he attempts to use it on King Koopa, but since he has a cold, he can't hear well and is immune. At the end, Mario uses some plumber putty in his ears to get near Koopa and make him drop the music box.
  • One episode of Archer has Krieger studying the phenomenon of the Brown Note. Mostly to weaponize it into a gun that makes people shit on command.
  • In Steven Universe, The Corruption that turns Gems into monsters appears to have been some combination of weaponized light and sound.
  • The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show has singer Enrico Caruso sing a note so powerful, it causes the Great San Francisco Earthquake.
  • Kaeloo: The Halloween Episode had Mr. Cat tell a story (not shown to the audience) that makes everyone except himself and Stumpy vomit profusely.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Toys of Doom", the Toyman uses a calliope that plays music capable of crumbling a skyscraper.

Alternative Title(s): Motif Of Harmful Sensation, The Basilisk, Deadly To Behold

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