The noisy neighbors
The noisy neighbors
They won't go to bed
The noisy neighbors
The noisy neighbors
The noisy neighbors
They make enough racket to wake up the dead.
Living in an apartment has a big issue. They aren't soundproof, so noise from one carries to the other. This is true in real life as well as in media.
And in both, a common way to deal with this is to bang on the wall/floor/ceiling, depending on the direction of the noise, in the hopes that this will quiet the offending noise. And in both, this rarely works, and may even encourage the neighbors.
One of the most commonly portrayed versions of this is an old person banging on the ceiling with a broom.
If the setting is a dormitory (again both in fiction and out), expect this to be turned Up to Eleven, since:
- young and frequently inebriated college students are hardly known for their ability to remain quiet and
- dorms tend to have even thinner walls and even more people in the same amount of space than an apartment building.
- Inverted in a commercial for something, where a student is studying and can hear Prozzak's 'Omabolasire' coming from upstairs. The student then bangs on the ceiling with a broom and yells "Turn it up! I can't hear the words!" The commercial ends with her twirling her pen and singing along with "Sucks To Be You".
- Played with in a French condom commercial, where a woman is inspecting the soundproofing of an apartment she might rent. She begins panting and moaning, getting louder and more dramatic until she hears the angry banging of the neighbors that indicates the place is not for her.
- Played with in a commercial for something: First we see the remains of a wild party, including passed-out guests. Then we see the upstairs tenant placing 50-inch speakers face-down on his floor with a sheet of plywood between them. Then he stands on the plywood, wearing cowboy boots with microphones taped to them. Cue an epic stomp-dance routine so loud it makes the downstairs furniture walk around by itself.
- In Excel Saga, Watanabe gets infuriated at all the noise Excel's making in the next-door apartment at the end of episode 1.
- The first few episodes of Welcome to the N.H.K. have the main protagonist, Satou, being driven half-mad by his next-door neighbor (next door but sharing the same wall), who keeps playing the same J-Pop song, nonstop, 24 hours a day. A number of times he angrily kicks the wall and yells for his neighbor to turn the music down.
- In an episode of Crayon Shin-chan (the Gag Dub), Shin gets into a stomp competition with the landlady on the floor below. At least to him it was a competition. She was just ornery about the stomping.
- An episode of My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute has Kirino Squeeing about an H-scene in the Eroge she's playing... so her brother had to slam the wall to quiet her down. Kirino is not amused.
- In The Maze Agency #8, Gabe's downstairs neighbour yells abuse at him and he pounds on the floor with his shoe to get her to shut up. The animosity between them becomes an issue when she is murdered.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In one Donald Duck story by Carl Barks, Donald and his nephews move into a terraced house in a neighborhood that's famous for its quietness. Donald, being Donald, manages to quickly get into a Ceiling Banging battle with his new next-door neighbor, with the two using increasingly loud methods to get the other to stop making noise. The only thing that finally manages to stop them is their mellow upstairs neighbor blowing a massive alphorn, which temporarily deafens them both.
- Used a lot in recent years in For Better or for Worse because of the crabby downstairs neighbours Mike and Deanna have...and Deanna's mom provoking them for being so crabby. The neighbours damage the ceiling while doing this and the landlady had all the proof she needed finding the broken plaster in the trash to hit them with the bill for the repairs.
- The Family Upstairs was all about Mr. Dingbat's failed attempts to get the neighbors upstairs to stop making such a racket.
- The Wizards of Waverly Place "Jalex"-fic Justin Left Stanford is made of this trope. Central to the story is how Alex gets back at Justin for going to college in California (and leaving her) by learning how to use the 'spell locks' to ensure that during his vacation time at home, he can hear and enjoy every moment of her nightly fantasies about him.
- In Life Left Behind, Draco has left the wizarding world and lives as a Muggle in New York. One day, he comes home to find a chair on his coffee table and his best friend Joel on top of that, banging the ceiling with a broomstick and screaming obscene words while the upstairs neighbor can be heard deliberately stomping around above.
- In 101 Dalmatians, this is Nanny's standard method of gaining Roger's attention when he's working on his music in his attic workshop. Thus, it is a welcome signal to take a break instead of being one of irritation.
- In The Lion King 1½, it's shown that during the "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" scene, Timon and Pumbaa were sleeping in their new home. Timon then grabbed a twig to get them to keep it down, eventually using it to inadvertently knocking over the animal tower at the end of the song.
- In the movie Office Space, Peter's neighbor Lawrence is constantly banging on the walls and listening in on his life. He even joins in on a supposedly top-secret conversation from the other side of the wall.
Peter: Oh, it's okay... Lawrence is cool.
- In Antonia's Line, a character known only as the Protestant bangs on the ceiling with a broom whenever the lady above him, Mad Madonna, howls at the moon.
- In an Italian movie about the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, said politician hears a kid playing with a ball in the room upstairs and starts banging to let someone know he's being held prisoner. But the child's mother just thinks this trope is in play and tells the terrorists she'll keep the kid quiet.
- In the French movie La Folie des Grandeurs (Delusions of Grandeur), Blaze the valet is keeping his master Don Salluste (Louis de Funès) awake by dancing the flamenco and singing in the small room right atop the luxurious bedroom. Since it's a castle, the ceiling is very high and Don Salluste has first to build up an improbable pile of furniture and chairs to reach it. Then he bangs the ceiling with the handle of a halberd, to no avail... until the tip goes through all the way, right between Blaze's feet. The sassy valet then pulls on it, making Don Salluste lose his footing and the pile of furniture collapse underneath him just as he clings to the halberd. Then, he shouts at Blaze to let go, and the latter complies... letting Don Salluste fall from a good height, the blade of the halberd landing pointy end first and sending a comical vibration throughout the irate nobleman.
- Nicole's upstairs tenant in Les Diaboliques, attempting to listen to a radio quiz show, is aggravated by her noisily filling her bathtub at 10 p.m.
- An odd variant occurs in 68 Kill, where Liza and Chip have noisy, animalistic sex in their car and Violet—who is locked in the trunk—bangs on the trunk lid to remind them that she is still there and can hear them.
- A man was staying in a hotel room and complained to the manager that he was kept awake all night by the guest in the room above him. They visited the room above and found a farmer who had arrived back in the hotel, exhausted, in the middle of the night. The farmer apologized and explained that he just flopped on his bed, and shoved off his boot which landed heavily on the floor. Realizing his mistake and the noise, he had taken the other boot off and placed it carefully on the floor. The manager asked the original complainer, "You were kept awake all night from the one thump?", to which the man replied, "I was waiting for the second boot to drop!"
- A drunk was proudly showing off his new apartment to a couple of his friends late one night. He led the way to his bedroom where there was a big brass gong and a mallet. "What's that big brass gong?" one of the guests asked. "It's not a gong. It's a talking clock," the drunk replied. "A talking clock? Seriously?" asked his astonished friend. "Yup," replied the drunk. "How's it work?" the friend asked, squinting at it. "Watch," the drunk replied. He picked up the mallet, gave the gong an ear-shattering pound, and stepped back. The three stood looking at one another for a moment. Suddenly, someone on the other side of the wall screamed, "You asshole! It's three-fifteen in the morning!"
- A Scotsman moves to London and after a week his mother phones to ask how he's getting on. "Well, Mam, I've found a nice flat, but the other folk are a wee bit strange. The man below me keeps hammering on his ceiling, the woman above me keeps stamping on the floor, and sometimes I can hear a weird moaning and groaning coming from the family opposite."
"They do sound awfy strange," his mother says, "I'd keep mysel to mysel if I were you."
"Och aye. I just stay in my room and practice my pipes."
- Reminiscent of an Ogden Nash poem which included something like:
We might love the people upstairs wonderous
If, instead of above us, they lived just under us.
- Mentioned and averted in Fight Club. The Narrator mentions he lives in a high priced apartment for urban professionals with thick concrete walls and floors:
Narrator: Home was a condo on the fifteenth floor of a filing cabinet for widows and young professionals. The walls were solid concrete. A foot of concrete is important when your next-door neighbor lets their hearing aid go and have to watch game-shows at full volume. Or when a volcanic blast of debris that used to be your furniture and personal effects blows out of your floor-to-ceiling windows and sails flaming into the night. I suppose these things happen.
- Used as a Meet Cute in P. G. Wodehouse's short story "The Man Upstairs". She's playing the piano, he knocks on the floor to quiet her down, she goes upstairs to give him a piece of her mind, and a friendship ensues. It later turns out that he moved upstairs in the first place because he wanted a chance to get her attention and did so at the first opportunity. The story ends with a Call-Back in which she changes her mind about being angry at him and knocks on the ceiling to summon him downstairs.
- The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Alexander bangs the wall knowing the NKVD informer next door, who has a glass pressed up against the wall to listen to what they're saying, won't like it.
Raising his voice, Alexander took his rifle, banged once very hard on the wall and said loudly, "Have you heard this joke? A man showed a friend his apartment. The guest asked, 'What's the big brass basin for?' And the man replied, 'Oh, that's the talking clock,' and gave a shattering pound with a hammer." Alexander banged the wall hard again. "Suddenly a voice on the other side of the wall screamed, 'It's 2 A.M., you bastard!'"
- Mr. Heckles would routinely bang on the floor of Monica and Rachel's apartment and complain about the noise. When he passed away, Chandler noticed that due to the building's weird acoustics, the noise from other apartments actually was heavily amplified and started to bang on the ceiling himself until he realised in horror what he was doing (the Running Gag throughout that episode was that Chandler had found Heckles' old school year-book and was freaking out at their similarities).
- There was also one episode where the guy who lived above Monica and Rachel was making too much noise, but whenever they went up to complain he was so nice they forgot about it. Phoebe goes up to complain for them, and they end up getting on so well that the noise gets a lot worse.
- The first-season episode "Meadowlands" of The Sopranos: Meadow and Hunter are playing music way too loud, prompting longer and louder "HEEEEYYY!"s from Tony, who pounds the wall as he shouts.
- In Mork & Mindy, this trope is used for a classic gag. Mindy is complaining about a ceiling banger below her apartment and Mork suggests she make the best of it making by making a game of it. When Mindy asks how, Mork stomps on the floor and uses the ceiling banger's subsequent banging to sweep Mindy into a square dance with himself as the caller.
- The Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Sex and Violence" had a brief bit with a man banging on the ceiling with a broom. It was the transition between two sketches, with the family of the working-class playwright being shushed by Michael Palin so he could introduce a man with three buttocks. "We've done that!" All right, all right! A man with... nine legs! "He ran away." Oh, bloody hell. Uh... a Scotsman on a horse! [old ladies applaud]
- Happens in a couple of How I Met Your Mother episodes, most notably in the one where Future Ted tells his kids that they were annoyed by the loud bagpiping of the neighbors. Also referenced in another episode where Lilly tells Ted she can hear Robin's orgasms because the walls are thin.
- Bernard does it in an episode of Black Books, despite the fact the couple making the noise are not actually upstairs, and causes a huge chunk of plaster to fall on a slumbering Fran in the process.
- An episode of House revolves around this with the cranky neighbor below being a Canadian veteran who lost an arm in Vietnam and suffers from extremely painful phantom limb. It's eventually resolved when House breaks into his apartment, knocks him out, duct tapes him to a chair, and... cures him.
- Community episode "Celebrity Pharmacology" ends with Annie banging on her floor in a vain attempt to quiet the PA sales announcements at the dildo store underneath her apartment.
- During Lipstick On Your Collar, Francis Francis's aunt and uncle exchange pounding through the ceiling with the upstairs neighbours (Corporal Pete berry and wife Sylvia) in response to Sylvia playing content loudly, or energetic sex. Seen mostly in episode 2.
- We see Josh do this during an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch when he hears Sonny and Cher playing very late at night and assumes its the upstairs neighbor. The twist, of course, is that it's Sabrina's spell coming into his apartment and has nothing at all to do with the neighbors.
- Frasier: A few times with the upstairs apartment, for example when a Hollywood Tone-Deaf Martin is trying to hit the high note in "O Holy Night".
- The I Love Lucy episode "Breaking the Lease" is a prime example of this. After a night of window slamming at the Ricardos' apartment, the Mertzes downstairs complain enough where Ricky and Lucy threaten to move out - only stymied by a 50-year lease. They determine to break the lease by making as much noise as possible - stomping around with heavy shoes, and so on; finally climaxing by bringing Ricky's band into the apartment for a jam session. Fred almost subverts this by charging admission, but after he goes to bed, they ratchet it up by playing the Mexican Hat Dance over an over until the Mertzes give up. All, of course ends happily, as all concerned start crying when the Ricardos are actually packing.
- In the pilot of Jessica Jones, the title character is woken by the squabbling couple upstairs and throws her boot at the ceiling hard enough to knock plaster off it onto her bed. We then get a shot of the ceiling with multiple bootmarks and chipped plaster.
- "Knock Three Times" is a popular song recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn. In the song, the narrator tells his beautiful downstairs neighbor, whom he's never met, but nonetheless is in love with, that she should knock on the ceiling three times, if she wants to meet him, twice on the radiator pipe, if she is not interested. Dave Barry comments (in Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs) that if Tony keeps that up (knocking on the ceiling), the neighbors are going to come over and start knocking on him.
- Barenaked Ladies' rather nostalgic song, "The Old Apartment", has the following line:
How is the neighbor downstairs? How is her temper this year?
I turned up your TV and stomped on the floor just for fun!
- The music video ups the reference, by having an old lady below the apartment taking a broom and banging on the ceiling when this section of song is sung.
- Inverted in Girls Aloud's song "Sound of the Underground":
Disco dancing with the lights down low
Beats are pumping on the stereo
Neighbour's banging on the bathroom wall
He's sayin' crank the bass, I gotta get some more
- Voltaire's "The Man Upstairs"
As far as I can tell, he juggles bowling balls
but he's not good at it.
- Paul Simon gave this the [Trope Name] treatment with "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor".
- The joint Run DMC/ Aerosmith video for "Walk This Way" features the rappers and rockers on opposite sides of the same wall, performing the same song. Run DMC keeps scratching records or cutting in with lyrics, interrupting Aerosmith's attempts to rehearse.
- The Goon Show: In "The International Christmas Pudding", Minnie and Henry are trying to sleep in a tent when they are disturbed by banging from the tent upstairs.
- The thin bedroom walls (and the requisite banging) were one of the reasons Commander Murray was so keen to move out of his parents-in-law house in The Navy Lark.
- Prisoner of Second Avenue features a fight between the Edisons and their unseen Scandinavian stewardess neighbors.
- Musa's upstairs neighbors in Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World do this a few times.
- In the DS game Touch Detective, your first case has you visiting the main character's extremely ditzy friend in her apartment. While you're talking, she hears her upstairs neighbor comes in, excuses herself for a moment, then starts banging on the ceiling with a stick of some sort, receiving some stomps in reply. When your shocked main character asks what she's doing, she explains that she's just greeting her neighbor in Morse code. The problem? As you find out when you visit the neighbor, your friend never explained this system at all, and the neighbor is just trying to get her to shut up with their "replies". You, of course, explain the mistake. It's implied that the neighbor goes along with it from then on, but it's not really brought up again, so who knows?
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there are two brothers in a house on the first island. The strong brother on the ground floor sometimes knocks things over by ramming into the wall, the smart brother on the top floor responds by banging loudly on the floor/ceiling while yelling for him to stop that.
- The Sims 2 Apartment Life lets you be on either side of the equation: Your sim may have a noisy neighbor, and decide to bang on the wall, or your sim may be a noisy neighbor, and have his/her wall banged upon. However, dorm walls in The Sims 2 University never have the same problem; a Sim can sleep in his/her dorm room even if a wild party is going on in common space.
- This is the Land Of the Livid Dead's first reaction to Rayman and company's noisy dozing in Rayman Origins, causing the tree Rayman's crew is in to shake. Not only do they fail to get the message, but the shaking causes their snoring to increase tempo.
- In Super Mario RPG, one citizen of Monstro Town complains that he keeps hearing strange noises and incoherent muttering next door. Mario tries to investigate, but the door is always locked. Later in the game, Mario can open the door, and it turns out his neighbor is Culex, a powerful sorcerer drawn in the normal ''Final Fantasy'' art style, and the house is actually a portal to his personal dimension, an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. Culex was about to invade Mario's dimension when Mario arrived.
- Eulice does this in one of the early strips of Ménage à 3, with a twist: she does indeed interrupt a conversation, but not due to being bothered by the noise. Rather, it is solely to reaffirm a statement in the conversation that she will have Gary's hide in the event the rent is not paid promptly.
- Sami attempts this with the CAU (Cranky Assholes Upstairs) in a few of the episodes of The Pittsburgh SOAPranos. They bang and yell right back.
- Parodied in a cutaway gag on Family Guy. A guy sneezes, and that set off the woman in the apartment below. The guy sighs at this overreaction, and she threatens to call the police.
- In a Cold Opening for Futurama, there are spring sounds that make it seem like the couple next door are having sex (Fry even complains that "they've been at it for hours!"). Fry bangs on the wall to tell them to shut up. Pan to the next room... where robots with springs for torsos are bouncing up and down, playing cards. One applies some oil to his springs and yells an apology. It's a robot apartment building, after all.
- In "Love's Labors Lost in Space", Zapp Brannigan is trying (and failing) to seduce Leela. At one point Zapp says "erotic" so loudly that Kiff, whose quarters are directly below Zapp's, can hear it leading to him banging on the ceiling with a broom.
- An animated insert on Sesame Street has an insomniac living on the second floor of a three-story apartment building. His upstairs neighbor snores and his downstairs neighbor sneezes. (Watch it here.)
- In one "Dial M for Monkey" segment of Dexter's Laboratory, Magmanamus, a giant magma monster that lives in the center of earth, pounds the ceiling of its room with a broom to get the people on the surface to keep it down so he can sleep. When it doesn't work, he goes upstairs.
- Done in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "A Glass of Warm Ed", with Sarah banging a lawnmower-toy thing on the floor.
- In Hercules: The Animated Series episode "The Bacchanal", during Bacchus' song, Hades is shown doing this in the Underworld, dressed in pajamas with a sleepy-looking Pain and Panic standing off to the side.
- Evictus, the landlord of the Venus de Milo Arms apartments on The Roman Holidays, is known to do this when the Holidays get a mite too noisy. Especially when Happius plays his rock music.