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Creepy Monotone

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"He kept giving these line readings with all this inflection in them. I kept telling them that it had to be less, a lot less — like a robot. He kept saying it sounded so flat. Everybody else was looking at me too and was asking me if I was sure. To them, it sounded flat. I think it really sells it."

Normally, people who are calm tend to speak in a clear, even voice that doesn't vary too much from word to word and is immensely reassuring to the listener. This isn't always a good thing, however. A perfectly monotone voice usually means just the opposite of sanity, safety, and cause for reassurance; usually, it means the speaker is mind-controlled, crazy, an impostor, or is being threatened with death. In these cases, the creepy monotone is a sort of Glamour Failure to clue in the hero that any of a dozen things may have just gone wrong.

Usually, the creepy monotone varies from a calm monotone in that no word or syllable is stressed at all, even when they should be. This is the difference between saying "Oh hello!" and "Oh, hello." Even Spock Speak sounds more natural and less unsettling by comparison. Contractions are often omitted, as are specific or explicit mentions of names and facts, depending on the cause of the monotone. Here are some common scenarios for the Creepy Monotone.

Machine Monotone is a Sub-Trope. You may wish to compare Dissonant Serenity. Can make a very effective Deadpan Snarker. Compare Tranquil Fury, Alternate Catchphrase Inflection, and Voice of the Legion.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Morgana in .hack//SIGN.
  • R. Dorothy Wayneright from The Big O is monotone because she's an android (well, gynoid, technically). However, she is not emotionless, making it hilarious when she verbally abuses Roger in a calm, soothing voice.
    "You're a louse, Roger Smith."
  • Sawyer from Black Lagoon talks like this because she uses an artificial voice box to speak as her voice box was damaged.
    • Revy's a classic example: The moment she stops acting maniacal during a gunfight and acts suddenly calm, run.
  • Sosuke Aizen's English voice from Bleach; his VA, Kyle Hebert used HAL as an a inspiration.
  • When Lilika in Burn Up! Scramble uses her Psychic Powers, she gets Mind-Control Eyes and speaks like this. Usually, she blurts out something embarrassing about Rio.
  • Clare from Claymore speaks like this to emphasize her stoic badassery.
  • Cowboy Bebop:
  • In Death Note, L and Near are both prime examples of this trope.
  • Muzan Kibutsuji from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. He almost always speaks in a soft-sounding monotone, which makes him pretty unsettling whenever he's butchering someone.
  • Digimon Frontier's Dark Trailmon. He's actually very HAL-inspired, in design and in voice. (Ironically, he's not evil, just creepy: you expect the Dark Trailmon that you meet in the Dark Terminal during a hallucination caused by Duskmon, the Warrior of Darkness, after he ambushed you and kicked your butt on the Dark Continent to be a little... dark.)
    • Prior to that, Adventure had Machinedramon, who was dark.
    • Many Nightmares from Digimon Tamers came from J-Reaper, who was even darker.
  • The Androids from Dragon Ball, though Android 8 uses a little more inflection than most.
  • Yuki Nagato from the Haruhi Suzumiya speaks in a monotone, though she's not really that creepy, especially when compared to Ryoko Asakura.
  • Given that she's an Emotionless Girl that drags people down to hell, Ai of Hell Girl always speaks like this. The times when she doesn't is normally a time that you're REALLY screwed.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, speaking in this tends to show up in the main cast whenever things about the Town with a Dark Secret or Oyashiro-sama's curse start getting unearthed. More specifically, those under the influence of Hinamizawa Syndrome start imagining the people around them doing this, compounding their paranoia.
  • Shigure of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has No Social Skills due to a really awful upbringing (her own father never bothered to name her; a friend of his finally did so when she was around 10), and what little dialogue she delivers is typically extremely flat. She, however, is distinctly not The Stoic; she just expresses her feelings with her body language and her actions.
  • Paul von Oberstein from Legend of the Galactic Heroes has a trademark monotone and is one of the grey characters of the series. While he has thrown his lot in with Reinhard, he also has his own goals and apparently has little need for the fellowship of the other admirals. His actions lead to the death of Siegfried Kircheis, Reinhard's closest friend in an assassination targeting Reinhard. He is also a participant in the events that lead to Oscar von Reuental's rebellion, although he later exhibits something, not unlike sympathy.
  • Sucy Manbavaran in Little Witch Academia speaks in a morose and raspy monotone, which adds to her generally unsettling nature.
  • Precia Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a monotone speaker and just a wee bit nuts on top of it.
  • Johan Liebert from Monster constantly speaks in a calm, quiet monotone as part of his Dissonant Serenity. Anyone who hears it will likely end up dead.
  • Naruto
    • Shino Aburame. (when he talks, anyway.) Somehow, this makes him even creepier than being a living hive for 4 million insects would by itself.
    • Gaara would fit this. Even after his Heel–Face Turn, he still retains his gruff-yet-emotionless monotone way of speaking. Old habits die hard, it seems.
    • And Itachi Uchiha, whose voice, though not quite a monotone, stays very even whether he's chatting with his partner or predicting your death.
  • Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion. She's practically the poster child for this trope when she does talk. Though she still has noticed subtle changes in tone if you pay attention. So it's not completely monotonic, actually. The Creepiness is up to the viewer to behold.
  • In the last OVA, after being possessed by an evil doll spirit, Akane from Ranma ½ starts talking in a low monotone voice, even while Showing Off the New Body.
  • Sgt. Frog: Kululu, who gets inexplicably high pitched when he gets particularly excited about something (usually terrible or destructive), which actually makes him even creepier.
  • Dr. Stein the Mad Scientist in Soul Eater speaks in this in the English dub. He keeps on doing it even after turning out to be a Stealth Mentor.
    • Crona does this using this as a normal tone of voice. His/her voice becomes sing-song and insane when his mind is snapped by Medusa, complete with a Slasher Smile and Laughing Madness.
  • Death Gun/Sterben from Sword Art Online. Due to his mask filtering out his voice, it appears almost completely drained of emotion. His icy tone gives a haunting quality to all his lines promising to kill someone.
  • The Anti-Spiral leader in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Nia when she's changed into an Anti-Spiral. Once the protagonists get the better of him, he snaps and starts getting Hot-Blooded.
  • Legato Bluesummers of Trigun almost always spoke with a monotone (or simply very calm) voice.
    • And then you find out that his English voice is Kenshin Himura of all people...
    • Subverted in the manga: after being crippled by Knives for trying to kill Vash, he turns Axe-Crazy, but still talks with the creepy monotone.
  • Nerabu in Tweeny Witches maintains a level tone in all situations.
  • Vamp! has the character of Shizune, who is notorious for speaking with one of these.
  • Both of Aiko's parents in Vampire Princess Miyu speak in very flat, unemotional voices and have very slow speech patterns; this makes them sound horribly creepy, even when they seem to be very kind persons aside of this "detail". This very subtly hints that they are actually Dead All Along.
  • From Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Judai does this when he is taken over by the Supreme King/Haou. Well, in the Japanese version at least. The English Dub puts a reverberation in his voice.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V gives us Yuya's "Awakening". Half of the time he's screaming in rage. The other half is a monotone that says "die".

    Comic Books 
  • Rorschach from Watchmen speaks in a low, growly monotone (other characters remark on its unsettling quality) with odd, near-Hulk Speak clipped sentences. "Yes. Good night. Remember it often." He has flashes of eloquence, too, which are unnervingly at odds with this style of delivery.
    • His mode of speaking is shown by his unique speech bubbles, with no words ever bolded or italicised for emphasis like the other characters'. By contrast, his speech bubbles in flashbacks to before the Blaire Roche case indicate a totally normal voice.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Happy Feet, there is a minor penguin character who sounds like a dead ringer for Hal 9000. He even calls main character Mumble "Dave".
  • Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (voiced by James Woods) speaks in a calm, collected, and calculating manner which makes him quite creepy. Frequently a source of horror given what his character is like.
  • Andy gives us this lovely line in Toy Story 2: "I don't want to play with you anymore." It causes Woody to wake up screaming from the nightmare.
  • AUTO from WALL•E, who was based on HAL 9000. (Helps that, at least in English, it's actually spoken by a computer.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Men in Black, the bug in the Edgar suit demands sugar water from Edgar's wife. OK, so his creepy monotone is very gruff and hostile-sounding, but that basically matches Edgar's pre-bug personality as well.
  • Any and all characters in Sin City, including the heroes, have an extremely dry and calm manner of speaking, bordering on creepy monotone. This is exemplified with Marv, who always speaks in a soft, calm manner, bordering on the nonchalant, even when brutally torturing and murdering somebody. Roark Jr, before his run-in with Hartigan, speaks almost like HAL. After that, though, he's a lot more expressive.
  • HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey speaks in an eerily calm and soothing voice, though he occasionally displays some emotions: prideful and even apologetic and, at the last, fearful, making him the most developed character in the film.
  • Uncle Charlie from Shadow of a Doubt
  • Bruno Anthony from Strangers on a Train
  • Hannibal Lecter from the The Silence of the Lambs series. Anthony Hopkins based his performance on HAL 9000.
  • Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver often does this, especially when narrating.
  • Reverend Harry Powell from The Night of the Hunter.
  • Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
  • Jonathan Crane in Batman Begins is this after he's been given a massive dose of his own fear toxin and Batman, who's already kind of intimidating, is interrogating him.
  • After Selina Kyle is almost killed by her boss Max Shreck in Batman Returns for knowing too much, she repeats the same words that she said upon entering her apartment in a previous scene, only in a creepy monotone of the first variety: "Honey, I'm home. Oh, I forgot. I'm not married." This turns out to be a prelude to Selina's impending Freak Out and transformation into Catwoman later in the scene.
  • Bart, a rogue cop in Southland Tales flatly insists on tagging along to a (fake) domestic disturbance with Taverner and Santaros and executes the couple on arrival. A creepy monotone delivered by Jon Lovitz is surprisingly unnerving.
  • It Came from Outer Space (1953). The aliens who've copied human forms talk this way, severely flipping out the real humans who don't believe their repeated claims that they don't mean any harm.
    • Not just monotone; these voices are like someone speaking inside a box; unnerving in the street or at home.
  • 28 Days Later has a variation, where a drugged Hannah is monotonously scaring the soldiers by telling them how Jim is killing them all.
  • Full Metal Jacket: "Seven. Six. Two. Millimeter... Full... metal... jacket..."
  • No Country for Old Men: Anton Chigurh speaks in a flat, emotionless manner, making him all the more scarier.
  • Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. In one scene, Ozymandias remarks that he knew that Manhattan still had feelings; they were just too subtle for others to notice. He uses this to his advantage.
  • John Malkovich's character in the 2000 TV miniseries of Les Misérables, perhaps as a result of trying to avoid any accent as he is not talking in his mother language.
  • The citizens of Sandford in Hot Fuzz do this after Nick Angel exposes their dark secret.
  • The evil townspeople of "Nilbog" also do this in Troll 2 while trying to force the protagonist to eat a poisoned bowl of ice cream and, in the process, prove that even a creepy synchronized monotone can turn into hilarious narm (or maybe even disturbing kink) with the right line:
    "Open your mouth, my little friend! Please, open it!"
  • Raven in Cecil B. Demented somehow manages to combine this with Perky Goth to great effect.
  • The robot GERTY in Moon is voiced by a very monotone-sounding Kevin Spacey. In the end, the trope is subverted as GERTY turns out to be mostly benevolent, going so far as to perform a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Cameron Vale in Scanners.
  • "Max", the AI of the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator, speaks in a dull, robotic monotone at first. Then, after doing a scan of David's brain, abandons this trope when he accidentally picks up some human personality traits and starts sounding like a robotic Pee-Wee Herman (naturally, as Max is voiced by Paul Reubens).
  • Would-be presidential assassin Mitch Leary from In the Line of Fire.
  • Sy Parrish in One Hour Photo spends the majority of the film talking in a very soft-spoken, almost robotic monotone, reflecting his disturbing lack of a personality, although he does show emotion at times, especially near the end of the film when he starts to lose it.
  • The aliens in the first Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), when no real humans were around to fool. Such as "I put the pod in the baby's crib. Soon there will be no more crying."
  • The nameless narrator in Fight Club sometimes slips into this, both in his narration and his dialogue in the film.
  • Interestingly, Darth Vader talks like this in the first Hungarian dubbing of The Empire Strikes Back, even keeping up the emotionless tone during his dramatic confrontation with Luke. Nostalgic fans often cite this as their favorite Vader voice, but others claim it came off more as "reading a script" than "acting".
    • Much later, Supreme Leader Snoke from The Force Awakens is introduced with a low and malevolent voice, coupled with a deep echo for extra chills. Physically his appearance looks ancient with a tone that can go from sinister calm to bellowing frustration within a split second.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness has the subdued John Harrison as its villain, employing a monotone which barely shows any emotion (other than anger). It's a contrast with the hammy Nero from the previous movie, and Ricardo Montalban's original incarnation of the character.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: This is how Apocalypse sounds when he informs Professor X, "I'm here for you, Charles." The voice is quite chilling, and it forebodes that Xavier will soon be in really deep trouble.
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer's "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" dialogue concerning the creation of the atom bomb comes off as this partly because he was saying it for the non-dramatic documentary The Decision to Drop the Bomb and partly because of the grim subject matter.
  • The Zec from Jack Reacher.
  • The titular protagonist in Lucy, after gaining superhuman mental abilities, speaks in a matter-of-fact monotone, whether discussing human biology with Morgan Freeman or torturing a drug kingpin.
  • The Caller in Phone Booth rarely speaks in anything but a casual, matter-of-fact voice while he holds a man hostage with a sniper rifle. The fact that it's Kiefer Sutherland speaking adds to the effect.
  • The Oompa-Loompas sing like this in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
  • Dr. Phillip Decker from Nightbreed. Decker speaks in a calm, low, monotone register. He makes it seem like he does it because he wants to soothe his patients. He's in fact an unempathetic, murderous psychopath.
  • Shrooms: (Axe to the head) "I love you, Jake".

  • In the Discworld novel Hogfather, Mr. Jonathan Teatime — a rogue, sociopathic Psycho for Hire — unnerves people with his creepy monotone. It's one of the signs that he doesn't really see people as people worth communicating with, another being his habit of gratuitously murdering them.
  • In Five Go to Smuggler's Top, the allegedly deaf servant Block speaks in a monotone, and also has an expressionless face.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Big Bad Lord Voldemort speaks in a calm, flat tone of voice; this, perhaps even more than his use of Soul Jars and his utter lack of compassion, makes him terrifying. Except for when he gets agitated. It comes across more like him trying to achieve this trope but failing every now and again.
    • As Crouch Jr. proves, people who have drunk Veritaserum (Truth Serum) also speak like this.
  • The demon from the Neil Gaiman short story "Other People" speaks in "a voice that carried with it no sorrow, no relish, only a dreadful flat resignation." It is utterly expressionless for the whole story.
    Narrator: That's inhuman.
    Demon: Yes.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, the man whom Lift calls Darkness has a calm, flat voice to match his completely emotionless demeanour, even while he's trying to lynch a young child. He turns out to be Nale, the Herald of Justice, a Time Abyss who's spent the last 4500 years Walking the Earth slowly going insane because it was better than the hellish duties of the Heralds. No wonder Lift doesn't think he's even human.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Myrddraal have voices that sound like crumbling bone and are utterly devoid of emotion or inflection. Not only is this incredibly creepy, but it makes Shaidar Haran, the Mouth of Sauron for the Dark One, even more disturbing by comparison.
    • In the last book, the Sharan accent is described in this vein; a Sharan Ayyad who is part of Demandred's army is described as sounding like "all the music was gone from her voice."
    • Rand lapses into this in The Gathering Storm after he crosses the Despair Event Horizon. Before he recovers, his voice is flat, mild, and skin-crawlingly terrifying to everyone around him.
  • Ax-Crazy valet Brinkley from P. G. Wodehouse's Thank You, Jeeves, though, like everything in the book, it's Played for Laughs.
    Brinkley was at the door, begging me to come out and let him ascertain the colour of my insides; and by Jove, what seemed to me to add the final touch to the whole unpleasantness was that he spoke in the same respectful voice he always used. Kept calling me 'Sir,' too, which struck me as dashed silly. I mean, if you're asking a fellow to come out of a room so that you can dismember him with a carving knife, it's absurd to tack a 'Sir' on to every sentence. The two things don't go together.
  • In Murderess, James, the boy from Chopped Tree Inn, talks like this when welcoming Lu. His mother quickly sends him away when he scares Lu too much.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord Roose Bolton, being a devoutly stoic Soft-Spoken Sadist, always speaks in whispers so faint that people have to lean close to hear him. His tone is constantly described as unsettling, emotionless and cold, as he believes that avoiding passion is the key to staying young.
  • Temeraire: When Temeraire meets his old enemy Lien in Black Powder War, she delivers an eloquent, chilling description of everything he's cost her and how utterly she plans to destroy him in Revenge, all in a flat, emotionless monotone. Temeraire is badly shaken when she finally leaves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul: Gustavo Fring is a lethal guy to lock horns with, but he talks with the most creepy yoga-like serenity. Gus becomes more menacing whenever he does raise his voice.
  • Black Bird: Larry Hall is a serial killer and pedophile who constantly speaks in a flat, emotionless affect.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Willow, when she snaps at the end of season 6 and goes on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge (or would it be "Creepy Monotonous" Rampage of Revenge?): "Bored now."
    • What makes it even creepier is that the monotonous "Bored now" is the exact line used by an alternate version of Willow wherein she was an evil badass vampire chick. Dark Willow was basically her vampire double sans the vampire.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • James Wesley speaks in a very flat monotonous tone, which combined with his glasses makes him very intimidating as a mouthpiece for Fisk.
    • Wilson Fisk is no sloucher either in this department when he's giving long-winded soliloquys.
    • Dex whenever he attempts to feign empathy with some sort of variation of "It's hard, it's really hard".
  • Deadliest Warrior gives us Brahm Galligher, who seems to be incapable of speaking in anything but a creepy monotone. Unless he's swinging a halberd around.
  • Dexter:
    • Subverted. Half the fun of most dialogues the title character takes part in resides in the way Michael C. Hall delivers his lines, in an emotionless creepy monotone that should trigger the "serial killer alarm" in the minds of even the most oblivious of the other characters. Except, of course, it never does. "Why, in a building full of cops - all supposedly with a keen insight into the human soul - is Doakes the only one that gets the creeps from me?"
      • Inverted when he snaps and kills the used car salesman for insulting Rita. Cue scared "he's freaking crazy!" reaction.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks use a mechanical, staccato voice delivery, but they tend to increase both speed and volume for emphasis. Also, there's quite a bit of variation of individual voices. Creepy, yes; intensely emotional, and very monotone — only the single tone used isn't flat apathy, but rather a consistent bent of shrieking hysterical rage. When they're not grating out staccato bursts of antipathy, it usually means something's very, very wrong.
    • The Cybermen from "The Moonbase" onwards speak in a flat, mechanical tone of voice in the '60s, the '70s (i.e. "Revenge of the Cybermen"), and the Revival Series. In "The Tenth Planet", they spoke in a creepy emotionless sing-song modelled on early 'singing computers' like IBM 7094, while in the '80s, they spoke in a projected shout similar to that of the Daleks (though deeper and more drawn out).
    • The sociopathic and terrifying Himmler-Expy Nyder in "Genesis of the Daleks" has this as his affect. He's remembered as one of the scariest supporting characters in the story because of this, even next to Davros and the Daleks.
    • The robots in "The Robots of Death" — one of the many reasons they invoke the Uncanny Valley In-Universe. The sequel Corpse Marker establishes that this monotone has become fashionable for humans to affect, especially those of upper classes.
    • The creepiness in "The Impossible Planet" consists mostly of the creepy monotone of the Ood and the computer system being possessed by Satan.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": The Family of Blood sported eerie monotones for a little while after they started inhabiting human bodies... and then all four of them went stark raving mad.
    • Used to great effect in "Silence in the Library", where an AI retelling cries of panic and pain in utterly emotionless creepy monotone makes the situation seem scarier than it would be if they were reproduced verbatim.
    • "Resolution": When controlled by the Dalek, Lin speaks like this.
  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space", River announces to the bounty hunter Jubal Early that she has "melted away" into the ship Serenity, becoming part of it, in a creepy monotone. It becomes even more chilling when she alters her tone just a tiny bit for the line
    "Not talking to River. You're talking to Serenity. And Early? Serenity is very unhappy."
  • The Observer in Fringe. On first seeing him, this trope leads the viewer to believe that he's got something devious going on, but he turns out to be more ambiguous than that.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Peter Baelish always speaks in a smarmy, wry half-whisper. Not too creepy and even somewhat affable when he simply converses with his peers, but he uses the same tone when describing the things he did to poor women who displeased him, or telling a helpless girl, that she's totally safe with him.
    • One of the prisoners at Harrenhal speaks this way in "Garden of Bones" when explaining that her entire family has recently been tortured to death.
    • Styr the Magnar pairs this with Guttural Growler and Softspoken Sadist to breed a great Obviously Evil voice.
  • Sylar from Heroes could possibly pass for a perfectly ordinary, non Serial Killer type, except that he seems capable only of a creepy monotone or murderous rage. No middle ground.
    Sylar: This is usually the part where people start screaming.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had a segment where Stephen started talking in clipped, unsettling tones about The Formula (Which was, in fact, baby formula but he thought it sounded weirdly sinister), and it's becoming a running gag when stories lend themselves to demanding The Elixir from an emperor's tomb or a self-described Unstoppable Apparatus.
  • Lost gives us Benjamin Linus. "Of course, if I was one of them, these people that you just assume are your enemies, what would I do? There would be no balloon so I would draw them out to a really secluded place, like a cave or some underbrush, a good place for a trap... an ambush. And when your friends got there a bunch of my people would be waiting for them. Then they would use them to trade for me. I guess it's a good thing I'm not one of them, huh? ...You guys got any milk?"
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Family Values", Gideon typically speaks in one, though he does occasionally vary his tone when expressing anger.
  • This is one of the reasons Mesogog, from Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, is one of the scariest villains in the Power Rangers franchise. He never raises his voice at all. Even when expressing extreme anger, frustration or threats, he stays completely calm. Since he is a half human/half dinosaur hybrid, he combines this trope with Snake Talk, which makes him even more creepy.
  • Red Dwarf: In the episode "Quarantine", Rimmer maintains an entirely level monotone while asking the others if they think there might perhaps be something... amiss with his behaviour. After he's mentioned he's been watching them argue, entirely silent, for two (maybe three) hours.
    Rimmer: I'm sitting here in a red and white-striped gingham dress... and army boots. You think there's nothing amiss?
  • Lucius Vorenus from Rome, while in the middle of a Heroic BSoD. Even for a man who is normally quite reserved and has little problem with legally sanctioning killing, uttering the same line over and over while covered in blood can get rather creepy.
    Lucius: Where are my children?
  • One Saturday Night Live sketch featured sincere and heartfelt testimonials for The Amazing Alexander, a Broadway hypnotist act.
  • The Borg from Star Trek speak like this, along with Voice of the Legion. Individual Borg that have been separated from the Hive Mind also start off with a creepy monotone, though as they develop their own personalities, they usually segue into Deadpan Snarker or Spock Speak.
    • Award for creepiest borg monotone goes to Locutus' line: "Your resistance is hopeless... Number One."
      • Almost everything Locutus said was terrifying.
      • It's worth noting that Picard used the Locutus monotone while interrogating the liberated drone Hugh, who recognized Picard as Locutus.
    • Lt. Commander Data also qualifies for this trope. There are situations where, combined with his natural Dissonant Serenity, Data's calm demeanor can be downright nightmarish.
      • Data spends most of "Masks" being a Large Ham after a number of alien personalities take over his body. Before Data or anyone else understands what is happening to him, however, he calmly asks LaForge a chilling question in a haunting monotone:
        Data: Geordi? What does it feel like when a person is losing his mind?
  • Summer Glau is good at creepy in general. In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron regularly speaks in a constant, soft-yet-creepy monotone. However, the show also plays its absence to excellent effect. The absence of the creepy monotone we're used to is what made the scene where Cameron recites not only word for word, but also inflection for inflection a "classmate's" emotional bathroom rant for the principal creepy.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultraman: Ultraman himself when he and Hayata first met - he has an odd echo to his voice, and this appears to be his speaking voice rather than telepathic inter-alien communication.note 
    • Ultraman Z: Kaburagi speaks like this when possessed by Celebro, with an added reverb effect to his voice for maximum creepiness. He slowly loses this trait as the series goes on and Celebro's Mask of Sanity starts cracking, revealing the raving psychopath beneath.
    Kaburagi: Kiete karekareta. (I'm feeling good.)
    • Fitting for a modern retelling of Ultraman, every Extraterrestrial in Shin Ultraman speaks this way, including Ultraman himself. This serves mainly to emphasise how mysterious and far beyond humanity they are.
  • Robert Stack would often host his segments on Unsolved Mysteries in what was supposed to probably be a very flat, newscaster-type voice. However, the tone of his voice and the creepy nature of the show sent it careening into this pretty quickly.
  • The X-Files:
    • Eugene Victor Tooms from "Squeeze" and "Tooms" bare-ly has an-y in-to-na-tion at all and talks real-ly slow-ly. It's ser-i-ous-ly freak-y.
    • Donnie Phaster, the Serial Killer in "Irresistible" with a fetish for dead women's hair, has a creepy, calm, flat voice and almost never blinks. Somehow, he can get strangers to see him as charming and affable for a short while. He turns out much later to have become or always been a demon.

  • Some musicians, like David Byrne and Peter Murphy, are known for frequently employing an affectionless creepy monotone singing voice.
  • "I Want My Innocence Back" by Emilie Autumn has plenty of this.
  • Radiohead:
  • "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap.
  • Nu-Italo (eg. Eiffel 65) songs often used vocoders to this effect.
  • "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto".
  • "I Tried So Hard to be Good" by The pAper chAse.
  • OK Go's cover of The Muppet Show theme song.
  • Tyler the Creator does this in his song "Fish," which details the thoughts of a man who is either Albert Fish, a cannibalistic, pedophilic, necrophilic Serial Killer and rapist, or someone with an incredibly unhealthy obsession with fish.
  • The female lead singer's vocal performance in The Flying Lizards' cover of The Beatles' "Money (That's What I Want)."
  • Evelyn Evelyn speak like this and often sing like this. Despite being Conjoined Twins they aren't presented as evil or creepy because of it. They, however, had a very horrible childhood and have poor social skills, which likely resulted in them speaking in monotone.
  • The Protomen feature this in Act II's "Give Us The Rope," where the crowd's vocals are toneless shouting, in contrast to the emotional, dramatic music backing them.




    Tabletop Games 
  • This is one of the suggested options for the voice of Friend Computer in Paranoia.
  • On the few occasions in Warhammer 40,000 that Necron Lords have spoken, they have been unusually polite and cultured speakers possessed of a truly chilling calm, which may make some sense, given that they are the still-sentient leaders of a race that now exists as, for all intents and purposes, undead robots.
    • "Lucky creatures... At long last... you have found... the tranquillity... of death..."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Dangan Ronpa 2 Goodbye Despair, Mikan Tsukimi dips into this when she's fingered as the killer of chapter 3. This is a stark contrast to her normal method of speaking, meek and full of stuttering.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Viola Cadaverini is said to speak with a creepy monotone, laced with subtle death threats.
    • In Dual Destinies, a particular, usually-emotional character has a line with his face turning completely stern, and part of his forehead torn, not bleeding. He's The Phantom, a master spy who was just impersonating a deceased detective, whom he had murdered.
      Fulbright: "Aw. Look at what you did to my mask."
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, what makes Yakumo's dissection of living girls all the more unsettling is how calm he is when doing it, his voice perfectly level and measured.

  • Homestuck's Gamzee possibly speaks in monotone; it's hard to be certain exactly how his text quirk would be vocalised. At any rate, he later goes off the deep end, and upscales his wHiMsIcAl CaSe AlTeRnAtIoN to whole lines of text, meaning that he alternates between barely audible and screaming in rage. Aradia also speaks like this.
  • Kagerou's Kano speaks like this, according to the author.
  • Likewise, Remus's Seth Williams apparently speaks like this. even when he's about to carve someone up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • In El Goonish Shive, based on Magus reaction to Ashley's comment and the lighting here, it seems she delivered the line in this voice.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Terminal, a one-shot Batman Beyond villain, is another good one. This from the man (Michael Rosenbaum) who went on to play the Flash.
    • This is especially creepy considering how Terminal is the leader of a gang of Jokerz. "You're not laughing. He's not laughing."
    • The Joker himself in much of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Less laughing, more menacing.
  • Mr. Freeze on Batman: The Animated Series never really deviated from his cold, chilling (no pun intended) monotone, providing juxtaposition to the emotional depth of the character. It was effective. Word of God has it that his voice actor, Michael Ansara, struggled with this element of the role — his instinct was to act, and he had to be constantly reminded to be flat and robotic.
    • Possibly especially so in Batman Beyond, where he stops being simply apathetic and starts being straight up merciless.
    • Jeffrey Combs as both the Scarecrow in Batman: The Animated Series and the Question in Justice League. The difference being that Scarecrow's was creepy and Question's was hilarious.
      Question: [singing] Fell in love again. What am I gonna tell my friends?
    • Question's speech to Luthor in "Question Authority" falls right into this trope, however, being disturbingly calm.
  • Dilbert: The smartest garbageman in the world. He also has access to all kinds of equipment no garbageman should possess.
  • In one of The Simpsons' Halloween specials, Bart is turned into a vampire. He rejoins the family and monotones, "Hello mother. Hello father. I missed you during my uneventful absence."
    • Then there was the one where Lisa has to tell Homer that Bart had rented a car with a fake ID and was trapped in Tennessee. Homer's face goes red and he says calmly, "Yes. That's a real pickle. Would you excuse me?" He puts on a radiation helmet and screams incoherently for a while, causing the faceplate of the helmet to fog up. He then takes it off and says, now using the monotone again, "Alright, I have thought this through. I will send Bart the money to fly home. Then I will murder him."
    • Also used during the teacher's strike, coupled with Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
      Marge: There's just something about flying a kite at night that's so... unwholesome!
      Bart: [looks up to his parent's window over his shoulder] Hello, mother dear...
    • Treehouse of Horror V has anyone who's been "re-Neducated", the final phase of which consists of people getting a total frontal lobotomy.
      Bart & Lisa: Joiiin us, fatheeer.
      Marge: It's bliiiiiiiis.
  • Raven from Teen Titans (2003).
    • The Brain also speaks in a rather creepy, electronic one.
    • Slade also speaks in an eerily calm voice.
  • Animaniacs: Yakko and Dot slip in and out of this after getting whisked off to the middle of nowhere by the Grim Reaper.
    Yakko: We accept.
    Dot: To accept is to yield.
    Yakko: To yield is to allow oncoming traffic the right of way.
    Dot: Your breath is like the breeze of a landfill.
    Yakko: Food particles are wedged between your teeth.
  • Ignignokt, the green mooninite from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • Ultron in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Not helping is that he can't change his expressions, and his head is designed to look like an ant. Even worse, before he turns evil, he speaks in a much more emotional and upbeat fashion, meaning this is most likely intentional on his part.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • The Delightful Children from Down the Lane play with this trope - while sometimes, they speak in monotone, they also can have emotional responses, such as anger and frustration, etc. However, they all speak at the same time.
    • Lampshaded and subverted with The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy's Billy in the crossover special, in which he can't seem to keep up with them.
    • The episode "Operation: D.A.T.E" has the Delightful Children using a Mind-Control Device on a lot of kids they invited to a party in their mansion. As a result, they get Mind-Control Eyes and keep saying "Join us..." in a monotone sounding voice.
    • The Interesting Twins From Beneath The Lane also speak in monotones, but they behave much more individually although they are Finishing Each Other's Sentences.
    • Minor villains Mr. Wink and Mr. Fibb speak in monotone. Though they do show emotion sometimes.
  • Her flat-tone delivery is most likely one of the reasons why Daria is so unpopular in school. The audience usually finds it endearing, but to most other people, she's "the freaky quiet girl".
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, HP and Sanderson speak in such boring monotones that their voices are very low and deep. Even their Evil Laugh is dull and without affect.
  • Futurama:
    • Played for Laughs with the Hypnotoad. Anyone it hypnotizes speaks with no inflection, simply praising glory to the Hypnotoad.
    • Parodied in "Raging Bender", when Hermes comes back from vacation with a green slug on his head and explains in a creepy monotone that they had to make an emergency stop on the Brain Slug Planet. Throughout the episode, he tries to trick the others into wearing brain slugs.
  • Amon in The Legend of Korra. Scary enough on his own, but combine his creepy monotone with voice actor Steve Blum using his scariest voice...
    • Even worse when you throw the mask into the equation and never know what he looks like until the season 1 finale.
  • Dr. Barber from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack speaks in a monotone all the time, mmmmmm, yes.
  • While everyone might want to forget Mega Man (Ruby-Spears)'s "Curse of the Lion Men", it does fit here. After Tar flash-reprograms Wily's robots and Roll, Protoman very flatly tells him that he's now their leader. Made even more unsettling since no one else being mind-controlled during that episode invoked this trope (except perhaps Roll).
    • Earlier than that, Mega Man's voice becomes flat (along with a Brief Accent Imitation) when he was under Wily's control.
  • The Regis Mark V in Megas XLR speaks exclusively with a rapidly-delivered but completely neutral tone of voice. It makes sense as it's a robot, but the way it says it makes it sound like assimilating everything non-organic into itself is as natural to it as breathing is to a human.
  • Baudelaire says that Maxwell Madison Jr. from Phantom 2040 speaks this way as well.
  • The Twins from Superjail! speak in a low, quiet, gentle monotone voice - a stark contrast to the Warden's loud, flamboyant, inflected way of speaking.
  • Braniac in Superman: The Animated Series.
  • Shockwave of Transformers: Animated. He even gives a Shout-Out to HAL 9000, saying "I'm afraid I can't let you do that" to Ratchet. Though in his disguise as Longarm, he talks normally.
    • The same show's version of Megatron has this to a lesser degree. Amusingly, he once modified his voice to impersonate Bulkhead, but kept the monotone.
  • The Transformers: Prime incarnation of Shockwave also very rarely emotes, which fits into his occupation quite well. Even on the rare occasions he's angry it barely rises above the monotone, which combined with his face just makes him even creepier.
  • In Wakfu, Rushu is normally a hammy villain. When he is forced to revert to his true form while fighting Goultard, he briefly slips into a cold monotone, the implication being that he's not really having fun anymore.
  • Tino from The Weekenders started talking like this when he was made fun of for crying during a showing of Romeo and Juliet, so he decided to become emotionless.
  • The Emily clone in World of Tomorrow speaks in a monotone voice, claiming to have almost no emotions due to Clone Degeneration.
  • King Ramses talks like this on Courage the Cowardly Dog.

    Real Life 
  • Not all languages have the same range of inflection, resulting in speakers of a language with a lower range when learning a new language with a bigger range (for example Dutch speakers learning English), tend to sound monotone.
  • A bit of Truth in Television: behold flat affect, a common symptom of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the psychotic disorders (which includes schizophrenia). Some autistic people and people with aphasia also don't display emotion "appropriately"—that is, in ways similar to the majority—despite feeling it deeply, because they simply don't know how or it doesn't feel natural to them.
  • Stephen Hawking spoke like this, though it was because of the synthesizer he had to use to speak at all. He was actually quite personable. His lectures certainly drew crowds.
    • It's not just Hawking. Anyone who speaks using an artificial voicebox has no choice but to use a monotone, as the mechanism doesn't allow for inflection and tone. (For reference see Ned Gerblansky on South Park, or any number of laryngectomy patients in anti-smoking public service announcements.) Later, Hawking was offered improved software that could affect tone better and use a more appropriate accent; he turned it down because the synthesiser is recognised as being his voice.
  • Christopher Walken may be the best example of this trope, so much that even Wikipedia acknowledges it!
  • David Tanny uses a voice for his songs and podcasts that is basically a cheerful monotone. Especially unsettling when what he sings about contains Squick, as it frequently does.
  • Carl Sagan sounded like Agent Smith before sounding like Agent Smith was cool.
  • Used by Robin Williams to show one of the ways you can find out if your neighbors have been taken over by aliens.
  • In an interview, Alfred Hitchcock explained that raving lunatics are not scary. He said it was the dead calm voice you can't reason with. He made a finger gun gesture and said in a deadly calm voice "I don't want to do this, because my mother always said you shouldn't hurt people." Very creepy.
  • For some reason, Japanese PA announcers, regardless of who they are, seemed to be trained to be as monotone as possible.


Video Example(s):


Mind-Controlled Cheerleaders

Never give a prepubescent teenage boy mind-control powers, or THIS could happen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreepyMonotone

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