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Critical Annoyance

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Red Warrior is about to die!
"Dammit, I know!"

For the proper experience, run the "music" from this video while reading this page.

Red Alert! Red Alert! Life Meter almost empty! Critical Existence Failure imminent! Heal Thyself and this warning will go away.

In games where the player character(s) have Hit Points or some other measure of health, it's not uncommon for the game to warn the player that their health is low. After all, if their life meter depletes, it's Game Over, and the resulting consequence can be anywhere from a minor headache to a Rage Quit inducing catastrophe. However, while making a warning sound like a beep can definitely be effective in alerting the player to their condition, playing said sound over and over again is pretty much guaranteed to get on the player's nerves.

This warning is ubiquitous in games with hit points or a life meter. It might become annoying such that the player is less likely to play carefully when health runs low. On the other hand, when a game does avert it, and you end up dying because you didn't notice your health was low, you may start to miss it.

Some games use a Heartbeat Soundtrack as this sound. Some will have a character making the sound In-Universe, doubling as an example of Annoying Video Game Helper.

Game developers have started to pick up on the fact that this noise can drive certain players to near insanity, and merciful ones opt to downplay this trope in one of a few ways in more contemporary games, making this somewhat of a Dead Horse Trope.

  • The same beeping noise plays as usual once you reach low health, but quiets down after a few seconds to the point where it's barely audible; just quiet enough to not annoy the player, but still loud enough that they can hear it and know their health is low.
  • Alternatively, the game will do the same thing, except the noise will be completely muted after a few seconds. In this way, the game alerts the player that their health is low, but understands that they (probably) won't forget even after the noise dies down.
  • The game plays a single sound when you reach low health, but doesn't have constant beeping.

It is partly Truth in Television, except in Real Life, signs can usually be much, much worse.


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    Video Game Examples 
  • In the arcade version of 1943, warning beeps will sound when the player is low on health. In the NES edition, the music is replaced with a rather high-pitched tune when this happens.
  • Abuse: health low results in a constantly faster and louder heartbeat.
  • Most Ace Combat games have a few. Most of obvious is the warning you get when you are about to crash into the ground ("Warning, pull up!"). Also, the warning sound of a missile tailing you (which grows more intense as the missile gets nearer) can be this if you are already low on health or play on a Harder Than Hard difficulty where a single hit spells Game Over.
    • The worst offender of this by far was the first game: Get hit by so much a pebble? "ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! ALERT, BODY DAMAGE! etc..." every time your plane is damaged.
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War players have learned to loathe the mission "Solitaire" due to this; the mission in question requires that you get to the objective completely undetected by enemy radar, and due to this you must fly at low level (as in, below treetop level) in order to stay out of the detection cones, and as such you become very close bedfellows to the following:
    Female Voice: CAUTION. PULL UP. (incessant high-pitched beeping)
    • Every game since Ace Combat: Assault Horizon includes warning sounds when the plane is stalling or it thinks you're about to crash. Assault Horizon even makes your plane speak in its native tongue - your Sukhoi Su-27 will warn you of missiles in Russian, for instance.
    • If you have AI wingmen in a mission, their radio chatter will include them calling out any enemies they see coming for you. Your AWACS will do this regardless.
    • Missions with a large amount of AA or fighters become infamous for this; when the battles start picking up, the missile warning chirps become literally constant in your ear. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies was a particularly notable offender, since the radar lock warning was a series of buzzes that turned into a long, loud, grating buzz when a missile was fired at you. And you better believe the enemies fire a lot of missiles.
  • If you have only 1 health point left in, Adventure Island IV, you'll hear constant bleeping noise.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, when you get low on health, cracks (starting out small, then eventually growing bigger and pulsing red as more roses are lost) form around the edge of the screen. The symbolism is clearly that the Looking Glass is beginning to shatter.
  • In ANNO: Mutationem, whenever Ann's Life Meter reaches critical, the screen turns red that's accompanied by a distorted heartbeat.
  • Aquaria has no sound alarm, but gradually covers the screen in a red haze as you get damaged. Plus, once your health is low enough, each hit causes the entire game to drop to slow motion for a second or two while Naija recoils in pain.
  • Armored Core games feature a vocal warning when your AP drops below 50%, (in For Answer this was changed to 70% and then again at 40%) with a constant warning alarm triggering if you are below 10% in any of the games. Since you cannot heal mid-mission in AC, then the alarm is usually a sign that you must accept your fate or else fight like a madman and then hear the end-mission dialogue over the continued drone of the alarm.
  • Axiom Verge has the stereotypical "doot doot doot" beeping when Trace is on low health. The "annoyance" part, however, is cleverly averted because the beeping is actually always on beat with the music. So, instead of being annoying and taking the player out of the game, it only serves to heighten the tension, especially in a boss fight. The volume also starts out loud to let the player know that Trace is on low health, but gets quieter the longer he stays that way.
  • Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 made your controller vibrate at near-maximum intensity in heartbeat-like pulses when your health was critical. If you didn't have a health potion to stop the vibration, you were probably done for.
  • Bangai-O has a low-pitched alarm sounding off when your health is in the red, which goes faster if it's lower. Between the game's difficulty level and lax standards for continuing, you can be expected to hear it a lot.
  • In Baroque, the lower your health and vitality are, the faster and louder the protagonist's heartbeat is.
  • Both Battle Zone 1998 and the sequel have critical alerts when your base is under attack, along with a distinctive high pitched klaxon. Losing buildings, defensive units, and combat units will create an obnoxious cacophony of alerts as you fail your mission. Thankfully, the "AMMO DEPLETED" and "WARNING: DAMAGE CRITICAL" alerts for your own Hover Tank only play once.
  • In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, when a team was close to losing a conquest game then loud Red Alert klaxons would sound endlessly. Most annoying when a team managed to turn the tide just before losing and had to listen to the klaxons droning on and on even if they were doing well.
    • Recent patches have fixed this. Getting to the "losing" point sounds the klaxons three times...and then never again.
    • Battlefield 2 will have a pounding heartbeat become audible to members of the losing team just before a round ends.
      • Other games in the series also have alarms and flashing lights go off in aircraft, tanks, and APC's when they take critical damage and are about to explode.
  • When playing beatmania IIDX on a Life Meter that causes a Game Over if emptied outnote , the gauge and its corresponding numerical gauge display will begin to flash when it drops below 30%. It flashes faster the lower it gets. On Hazard mode, where one combo break results in immediate failure, the gauge flashes at all times.
  • BioShock: Whenever your health gets low, a Scare Chord plays along with a fast heartbeat. It doesn't last long, though.
  • In Black & White, while your health status, as an immortal god, is rarely in question, your villagers refuse to let up on their whining: "Need more civic buildings!" "We must have homes." "Need more food..." You'd think they weren't grateful for a patron deity!
  • Burnout
    • The first Burnout has three tiers of music for each track: a relatively calm BGM, a more intense theme once the timer starts to run down, and a countdown theme whenever you have less than 10 seconds left.
    • The third game, Takedown, has a few across it's various modes: Burning Lap audibly ticks down the last five seconds before a medal target, Elimination has a constant beep if you're in last place, and Road Rage has a critical damage indicator if you're one crash away from being knocked out.
  • Utterly averted in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth which has no heads-up display whatsoever. The only indication you get that you're injured is limping and Jack's gasps of pain, and the only sign that you're dying is that the screen gets grayer and grayer until you die.
  • Call of Duty and later Rainbow Six games feature loud heart thumping and color filters over the whole screen (sometimes a red hue, sometimes black-and-white). If you find them annoying, it might have been intentional, as it somewhat averts Critical Existence Failure.
  • Cardiophobia is yet another game with a heartbeat warning. In this case, however, it represents how many more scares Felix's weak heart can take rather than how injured he is.
  • Possibly related (in that it doesn't have anything to do with health levels) is the noise of the police cars in the first Carmageddon. Once the game was completed you had the ability to drive any car in the game, including those you couldn't normally buy. The police cruiser and the six-wheeled personnel carrier were very effective vehicles, but they had the sound of their sirens embedded in that of their engine.
    • The second Carmageddon does the same thing with its police cruiser and (even more annoyingly) the boomcar. And it changed pitch depending on your speed. Bum... Bum... boom boom boom BA BA BA BA BA BA BRRRRRRRRAAAAA.
  • Colobot has the beeping you hear when the robot you control is close to running out of energy.
  • Gerda from Comic Jumper. "You have less than 25% Health, Captain! Stop sucking!"
  • Copy Kitty features HP warning as an additional instrument layered over the soundtrack. It's proven quite popular among players, to the point where it was added as an option in the Sound Test menu, and shows up twice in the OST.
  • In the 1996 DOS/PC game Crazy Drake, if you're at 15% or less health left, Drake himself will kindly remind you every few seconds.
    Drake: Uh-oh! Low on energy!
  • CyClones will let out a blinking red "DAMAGE CRITICAL" onscreen when your health rating is too low. It disappears if you found a medi-kit or die.
  • In earlier DanceDanceRevolution titles, bringing your dance meter down to critical levels causes some sort of "Danger!" screen to flash in the background. Dance Dance Revolution Extreme is particularly bad with this, with a terrifying clip of a shark jumping out at you. Later games have more benign warning signs that don't interfere with your concentration, such as by coloring your dance meter red, or darkening your playing lane.
  • Dark Adventure takes this to the extreme where you start the adventure with a hunger meter - as you progress, your life bar depletes on it's own, and replenishes itself if you pick up food items, only to start depleting after a short while. Should your meter run out, you die right on the spot, keeling over and turning into a skeleton... time to use another life.
  • In Dark Cloud, when one of your weapons WHP gets low, a high-pitched beep begins to sound every few seconds, becoming more frantic as the WHP goes lower and lower until it is near constant. Given that if a weapon breaks it disappears forever, this can serve to remind the player to repair their weapon soon, especially rare ones such as the Serpent Sword or Chronicle 2.
  • "Check your position!" from Daytona USA.
    • "Watch that redline on the tach!" "Better keep an eye on your time!" "You're almost out of time!"
  • Destroy All Humans! had an annoying beeping sound once you lost your shield and were at risk of dying.
  • In Devil May Cry 5, the background music is muffled if you only have one vitality bar or a fraction of it remaining.
  • The first four Dot Hack games not only have a shrill beeping noise play when a character in your party has less than 25% of the maximum HP left, but their character portrait also flashes red.
  • Dragon Age II has a high-pitched continuous whine of violins that starts when your total party health is around 50%. If only one character is standing, it's all you hear.
  • The Russian sci-fi flight simulation game Echelon intro has a plane being badly damaged and crashing. It tells the pilot about every little problem before he dies.
  • A mod for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion used this in an interesting way. When your health dropped below 15 percent, the screen would start to blur. You could also set it so the blur started at 80 percent, but the magnitude was less noticable. It was called "Immersive Health Indication" in case anyone wants to use it.
    • This was integrated in The Elder Scrolls Online, as reaching critical HP levels makes the borders of your screen turn red, the colors of the world to lose saturation and the sound to dim. Actually dying dyes everything in a ghostly blue and changes the music to a requiem-like ominous chant.
  • In The End Times: Vermintide and VermintideII, characters complain and get snarky comments from their allies when critically hurt. Normally, it's a useful clue and status update about the team. With powers that allow regeneration and temporary health gains, though, you might hear it over and over.
    Kerillian: I am lost, lost beyond words.
    Kruber: You're a bit bloody, elf.
    Kerillian regenerates a few health, then gets hit again.
    Kerillian: The Weave calls me back.
    Kruber: Well, looks like our elf isn't as eternal as we thought.
    Kerillian regenerates a few more health, then gets hit...
  • The Eschalon series uses a heartbeat sound when you're at 15 HP or less. The closer you are to death, the faster the beat.
  • EVE Online will pull this on you if your ship's defenses are repeatedly going up and down the alert threshold (which by default is low for shields and armor, and the instant your Structure takes damage). Expect a Jump Scare if your defenses get perforated while you're watching a movie in the back.
  • F/A-18 Hornet/Precision Strike Fighter: "Altitude! Altitude!" ad nauseam when you're flying too low, and the beeping sound when an enemy missile is headed towards you. And "Bingo! Bingo!" when fuel is running low.
  • Fable does this in an interesting way. Whenever your health/will is low, you'll get an audio warning from the Guildmaster: "Your health is you have any potions? or food?" or "Hero, your will energy is low. Watch that." In the expansion pack, He's one of the people you can kill to open a portal to the final boss.
  • The Falcon series of flight simulators has the audio "Altitude. Altitude. Altitude. Altitude." warning ad nauseum when you're flying with gear up below a certain... yeah. There's also "Pull up. Pull up. Pull up. Pull up." over and over again if you're headed for the ground. This is apparently based on Real Life, and fighter pilots refer to the nice female you're-going-to-die voice as Bitchin' Betty.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas don't have this in the traditional sense; rather, when your head is crippled, your vision will go fuzzy, accompanied by a loud ringing noise. It's meant to simulate a concussion, and while it's no big deal in 3 or New Vegas' Casual Mode, on NV's Hardcore Mode, it can rapidly become incredibly aggravating if you're in the wastes and poorly supplied. They also have the loud Heartbeat Soundtrack when health is low.
  • In Faria, a klaxon plays every few seconds when you run low on health.
  • Fatal Frame games have the character panting heavily when low on health. In the first game at least, you would still hear the heavy breathing even when in the menu AND EVEN WHEN YOU SAVE.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The original Final Fantasy has this annoying, screechy sound that plays when you walk around with a poisoned character. This also occurred in Final Fantasy II.
      • Later Final Fantasy games replaced the horrible screeching with a sound akin to a heartbeat and by making the lead character flash red with every step.
    • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII has the left edge of the screen turn yellow when Zack hits half HP, and then red when he's about to die. Fairly useful, really.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, the screen flashes red when a character is low in health.
      • That changes once players get to the point in the game where every enemy can put party members in the red with one hit.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy has a near death alarm. The character also flashes red, and their HP count turns red as well.
  • Freedom Wars has AI allies called Accessories. If they die, you get this:
    Dying Accessory: Critical damage sustained. Commencing temporary shutdown... Assistance required. *Repeat every five seconds*
  • Friday the 13th for the NES has the Jason Alarm when a kid or counselor is under attack by Jason, and you only have a short time to save them. Once a counselor is killed, they're Killed Off for Real.
  • Front Mission: Gun Hazard is a lucky example - lucky in that you have an option to turn the thing off.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light has an alarm sound playing when a crewman is about to die. Of course, on many occasions it's actually going to help a player who is otherwise overwhelmed and wouldn't have noticed until the crewman died.
  • In the original F-Zero, you need to be above a particular rank as you cross the finish line, with the required rank getting higher with every lap (starting at 15 for the first lap and topping off at 3 for the final one). If you're at the minimum rank or lower, regardless of what lap you're on, a warning beep starts to play, and if you aren't at the minimum rank or higher as you cross the finish line, or if you fall to 20th place, you die.
    • In F-Zero X and GX, a similar klaxon sound is played when your energy is running low, and gets faster as your energy gets lower.
  • Gaia Online's MMO zOMG! has two types. If your health runs low, your heart starts beating loudly. If your stamina runs low, your character starts panting heavily and gasping for breath. Not too bad, provided you can find a safe place (or helpful players) to rest and recover. However, it doesn't stop if you're dazed and waiting to be revived.
    • Now they do cease while dazed. But what hasn't changed is that even if you lower/mute the sound effects from the in-game options, it doesn't affect these two.
  • Galaxian³: Project Dragoon, an Arcade Game with a huge cabinet that players sit in, has loud klaxons and red lights go off inside the cabinet when the ship's shields drop below 20%. Made worse by the fact that there is no way to restore the ship's shields.
  • Gauntlet, when a player's health falls below 200: "Wizard Needs Food Badly." "Wizard is about to die." Dun-un. Dun-un.
  • Averted in Gears of War, which can cause a lot of accidental deaths to Halo or Call of Duty players who are used to an audio warning to signal critical health. The only sound warning you that your health is low is the death scream of your character when he explodes messily into gibs. The game does have a visual warning, though.
  • In the Lamakan Desert in Golden Sun, you have a dehydration meter you have to watch. If the meter fills up, you get sunstroke and suffer massive damage. This wouldn't be so bad, if your party members would just shut up about being hot every few steps.
  • GunNail has an alarm go off when all of your shields are gone (with the next hit being a Game Over). Made worse by the score multiplier, which increases as you lose more shield. This means a high scoring run will consist of hearing the alarm for 98% of the game.
  • Both of the Half-Life games have the HEV suit announcing major or minor injuries and warning about "User death imminent" whenever you're under 25% or take massive damage from a fall. It tends to drone on if your health manages to pass several thresholds in one hit.
    • At least the first Half-Life allows you to turn down or turn off the suit's "voice", and its expansion packs avoid the voice altogether, because their protagonists aren't wearing HEV suits. In Half-Life 2 the suit's voice is quieter and has fewer line prompts.
    • Used as a bit of Black Comedy by Freeman's Mind in an outtake where Gordon falls to his death. The previously muted voice activates and begins its warning speech in otherwise dead silence.
    • The titular protagonist of Half-Life: Alyx has a pair of Gravity Gloves instead of a HEV suit. Said gloves let off a repeated high-pitched chirp when her health is critcally low, but only if you happen to be looking at the health monitor built into the off-hand glove.
  • Pretty much every Halo game has this when your shields/health are down. A couple of examples:
    • In Halo: Combat Evolved, health and shields are separate meters, so you get separate sounds for low shield (alarm-like beeping sound) and low health (heart pounding).
    • The "low shield" warning in Halo 2. It's relatively quiet and short-lived. If you're under fire and it can't regenerate, you're probably going to die soon. If not, it goes away in a couple of seconds.
  • HarmoKnight will have a flute play a low pitched "Toot!" sound constantly when you have one Hit Point left. This can, and will knock you off-beat.
  • In Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, instead of tired-looking Idle Animations like in most titles, there's a beeping noise when the MC is close to fainting. It gets faster when they're at their breaking point.
  • In Heavenly Bodies, the mining vessel's alarms will go off indefinitely so long as one of its rockets is left untethered.
  • Hellgate: London, complete with the screen changing to monochrome - and the occasional glitch that prevented it from reverting to colour after you healed up.
  • The "beebeebeebeep" sound in Janitor Joe when oxygen/time is running out.
  • The Journey Man Project: "BEEP BEEP BEEP. Energy level 50 %... Energy Level Critical". :Flatline:. In the Mars Maze, the music slows down as your Oxygen Meter depletes, and is replaced by a Heartbeat Soundtrack at critical levels.
  • Just Cause annoyed you with a continuous heart-beat noise, along with all other sounds almost muted and a red screen to tell you that you had low health.
  • In the Katamari Damacy games, there's a somewhat irritating siren every time you have less than 30 seconds left. It's not like you can increase your time, so rather than telling you to refill your meter or something, it just lets you know the level is about to end, even after the King let you know 30 seconds earlier, covering up the entire screen. The proximity alarm that goes off whenever you're near a moving object can also wear thin.
  • Every Kingdom Hearts game features this. When the player character's health gets too low, the life bar starts flashing red, a siren keeps going off, and the character's portrait may change to reflect their weakened state. These effects last until the character's health is taken out of critical.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has an annoying but attention-getting cymbal crashing, accompanied by your health bar blinking.
  • Kirby:
    • The earlier Kirby games have a quick beeping sound when you drop to one health point. The later ones use this when the health bar gets low. The beep only occurs once per "room", though; if you go through a door with your vitality still low, the beep plays again once the new room fades in.
    • Kirby Super Star has the same beep when your life bar falls to about 20% and Kirby starts flashing constantly (but silently), and taking any more damage after that will make a small copy of the health bar appear over his head for a moment.
  • In Klonoa Heroes: Densetsu no Star Medal, on low health, the player's portrait will glow red and a booping sound will repeatedly play.
  • From the Taito Landing Series:
    • In Midnight Landing, if you are not in control of your current altitude? (BEEP BEEP) "DECREASE ALTITUDE! EMERGENCY, DECREASE ALTITUDE!" / "EMERGENCY! PULL UP! PULL UP!" Because the game takes place at night with only the engine ambient sounds and the occasional spoken radio communication punctuating the silence, and the game comes in a deluxe cabinet that is dark inside (although most likely you're playing on an emulator instead), these warnings can easily come off as a Jump Scare.
      • If your horizontal alignment is off, the ATC admonishes you for it:
        "This is control tower. Midnight Air Flight 1, watch your landing path, over!"
        "This is control tower. Midnight Air Flight 1, you are out of your landing path, please correct your course immediately!"
        "Uhhhh...this is control tower. Midnight Air Flight 1, push that button for re-approach and circle the airport and try landing again."
    • Top Landing's "emergency" voiceovers aren't as loud, but now they're repetitive. Expect to hear "EMERGENCY, LEFT TURN, LEFT TURN. EMERGENCY, RIGHT TURN, RIGHT TURN." for the duration of later stages.
  • In the Famicom game Layla, when low on health, the black colors (including the border) of the screen flash red with a repeated sound. This flashes and sounds more frequently the lower health you are. Considering its Nintendo Hard difficulty, you'll be very familiar with this "feature" frequently.
  • Both Left 4 Dead games have this when your health is in the red. If your health falls below 40, the survivor will constantly complain about being hurt. If you've been incapacitated twice without healing, the whole screen turns gray, a heartbeat sound plays nonstop, and the survivor keeps reminding everyone that they're on the verge of dying.
  • Legend of Fae plays a siren noise as long as your health is at critical.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • LittleBigPlanet: If your party keeps dying repeatedly and runs out the lives in the last Checkpoint, the glowing ring on it turns red and an intermittent klaxon-type alarm sounds every three seconds, and the klaxon fades a bit if you go further from it. Once you activate a new Checkpoint, both the red ring and the klaxon stop.
  • Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy sounds a loud klaxon over and over when the player character's lifebar gets critically low.
  • Marathon plays a smoke alarm-sounding beep when you are running low on oxygen.
  • Mass Effect
    • Reaching low health in the games results in a red filter and Heartbeat Soundtrack playing. To make it even worse in the first game, you can't zoom in your aim while your health is below 15% or so. This means you're even more likely to die unless you burn a medigel or equip certain armor upgrades and wait to regenerate.
    • The Hammerhead in Mass Effect 2 has a constant siren that goes off if it takes even minor damage.
    • Shepard and the squad will occasionally call out some variant of "Shields are down!" to warn the player. It's not frequent enough to be annoying, but that also makes it unreliable. Your teammates may also take note when your health is very low.
    • In the first game, whenever the Mako tank loses its shields and starts taking health damage, your squadmates will yell phrases like "We're hit!" "Taking fire!" and "Hull compromised!" This gets very annoying in battles with tons of enemies that are constantly shooting you.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has several. Incoming missiles with a detected lock cause a vehicle's klaxon to repeatedly beep as long as the missiles are still in the air. In aerospace, this can be deadly as missiles never give up until they run out of fuel - forcing a critical damaged aircraft to either die by Anti-Air fire while dodging the missiles, or retreat ASAP and die from the missiles exploding their engine - all while the BEEP BEEP BEEP... BEEP BEEP BEEP is playing. Several tanks also engage a klaxon when their rear armor has been heavily damaged (exposing their engine) or their internal structure is critically damaged, though it's generally drowned out by the deafening autocannons mounted on many tanks.
    • MechWarrior 3 has a constant heat warning klaxon when the heat gets respectively high enough. If you're loaded mostly with lasers, you're going to be hearing this a lot.
    • MechWarrior Online subverts this when at critical damage, a warning tone will play for several moments but otherwise stays quiet, the blinking red light in the cockpit and the red "CRITICAL DAMAGE" displayed on your HUD stays until you win/die though.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network games have an annoying near-death alarm.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops not only features a life meter that gives out a warning when it's low, so does your stamina meter.
  • Metal Head, an old-timey mecha FPS, will activate an alert siren in the background should your mech be down to two health bars, until you picked up a repair kit or complete the stage. Goes without saying finishing a stage with a badly-damaged mecha will grant you a new one in pristine condition by the next level.
  • Metroid:
    • The series has this in almost every game.
    • In Metroid, once Samus' health hits about 16 points, her suit begins beeping dua-dua-dua-dua-dua-dua-dua-dua. Run out of health and it explodes.
    • In Metroid II: Return of Samus, a mellow alarm starts once Samus' energy drops below 50. As your shield energy gets lower, the low-health beeping sound will get gradually faster the closer it gets to zero.
    • Then Super Metroid brought it down to 30 before starting the same sound from the first one again.
    • In the Metroid Prime Trilogy, the Energy Low chime first started at 30, then gets gradually higher with every energy tank you collect, culminating to the sound starting when you're on your last energy tank. It was also accompanied by a big orange light in Samus' HUD, as were all the Item Low indicators.
    • Metroid: Other M scales this back to just having Samus pant heavily when at critical energy, audible through the Wii Remote speaker.
  • Your dogs in Minecraft will give distressing whines whenever their health is low.
  • In Mr. Driller, an alarm sounds and the player character begins to gasp for air once their tank falls below 30%. At 5%, the alarm speeds up and the tank percentage appears above the character's head.
  • Mystery Quest for the Nintendo Entertainment System beeps constantly when the player character runs low on health.
  • The Gameboy game Ninja Gaiden Shadow not only has an annoying beeping sound to warn you when you're on your last unit of health, but the entire status display starts flashing in the most obnoxiously distracting way.
  • No Man's Sky was particularly grating about this at launch, as you would get verbal alerts for low life support, low mining beam, low hazard protection and more at 99, 75, 50, 25, 15, 10 and 5 percent. Fortunately patches would adjust these mainly to display only; you'd only get verbal alerts at 15%, 10% and 5% for just hazard protection and life support (aka "No really you're about to die").
  • The Operation Wolf Light Gun Game had this as well as your health ran down. It would also flash helpful messages if your ammo was low, too.
  • The Oregon Trail: The infamous "DUN DUN" music when someone is sick or injured.
  • Overlord had a loud heartbeat sound when Overlord reaches its last piece of health. It is quite annoying when there is no imminent danger and you're just waiting for health to regenerate.
  • In Persona 3 and Persona 4, if anyone has an ailment or is low on health, your navigator will keep nagging you to heal them at the start of each controllable turn.
  • Planet Puzzle League lets you choose from several different warning beeps.
  • Pokémon:
    • Low health. In earlier games, it even screwed up the cries of the monster you were sending out, since the channels overlapped. This beeping got turned into a song which plays in that situation in the fifth generation. Starting in Pokémon X and Y, the beeping only plays for a second before stopping.
    • Another such sound is the poison alert. Prior to Gen V, a poisoned Pokémon would take damage as you walked around the overworld. Whenever they lost health, a sound similar to a muffled machine gun would play, accompanied with a visual distortion every couple of steps. Naturally, when overworld poison damage was removed as a mechanic, the noise went with it.note 
    • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, when you take damage in the overworld, black ink surrounds the screen borders, but when you're close to blacking out, the ink turns red and an alarm plays.
  • Happens in the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time trilogy, especially with the first Sands of Time game, where enemies hurt you and reduce your health gauge. When it gets down to a sliver of health left, the gauge makes a flashing glow and a loud, high-pitched hum, indicating that you need a drink of water from the fountains, and fast!
  • Psychonauts has a loud, irritating heartbeat noise when your Mental Health runs down. Given that Death Is a Slap on the Wrist it's enough to drive a player to suicide.
  • In Skill Battle mode from Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, whenever one side, whether it be the player or the enemy, is at low health a warning sound will play. If one side is at low health and is about to be KO'ed by an attack, the sound will speed up and their screen will flash red.
  • Quake Champions:
    • If your HP drops below 50 points, your screen will get less saturated.
    • Your character will scream out in pain and start panting heavily if their health drops below 25 points (unless it's Doom Slayer), in addition to edges of screen turning red. Pain scream can actually be heard by other players, informing them about your critical condition. This gets particularly amusing/annoying with B.J. Blazkowicz, because his passive Regeneration ability combined with his scream being the longest and the loudest in the game can lead to situations, when his health is dropped below 25 HP, triggering the scream, he regenerates up to 25 HP, takes minor damage, which triggers another scream, regenerates again, until he gets a health pick up or dies. At least panting can be turned down or turned off in options.
  • Rambo: The screen flashes red constantly to show the player low on health. This got annoying very fast. It was even worse if you inputted the invincibility code, because it basically triggered the low health flash all the frigging time. The only reason that didn't become famous for triggering epileptic fits (particularly since flashing red is the most likely way to do it) is because of The Problem with Licensed Games.
  • Raptor: Call of the Shadows had a very grating alarm that would play once hull energy reached around 15%, even if the player finished the level and bought the Phase Shields (therefore no real danger). It is understandable given that normally each subsequent hit would permanently take away one of your weapons, but did it really have to be a continuous and loud sound effect?
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, the game combines Mana Meter with Sprint Meter, in that it is affected not only by magic, but also by melee attacks and parrying with a shield. If you get yourself into a fight with multiple enemies and don't have any energy potions at hand, then prepare to see the "You're exhausted" message a lot. Thankfully, it recharges fairly quickly if you just stop attacking for a few moments.
  • Robotica sees your robot's alarm going off and beeping constantly once your armor hits below 20%. It gets even louder once you reach 10%, and if you're unfortunate enough to hit 5% it depletes itself.
  • Rock Band actually has the note highway pulse a clear red whenever either you or a draining crowd meter is in the dangerous red section of the crowd meter (or the bottom 1/4 of it). This red is clearly visible even during solos, and is not synchronized with the music.
    • The pulsing of the overdrive meter right next to the strike bar on the note highways is actually a useful, non-irritating reminder to make use of it (and it is snyced with the music). The highway-obstructing "TILT TO SAVE BAND MEMBER" notice? Annoying as hell. Fortunately, the drummer will probably complete fills on reflex and won't have to worry about the notice too many times (save when someone fails out DURING a drummer's fill, causing the fill to become useless due to a bug.)
  • Rock Raiders has a heartbeat sound effect whenever the air supply runs low. And the obvious landslide warning.
  • Rune Factory beeps incessantly when your HP is really low. It only happens in areas where you'll die if your HP runs out (in the towns you'll just fall unconscious and lose time).
  • Saints Row: The Third starts playing a fairly soft chime when your health falls to about 20%. At 5% or so, the audio around you slows down.
  • In Scrabdackle, the player will hear a constant beeping noise whenever Blue runs out of healing vials, indicating they will die from one more hit.
  • Shadowgate is an adventure game where Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and occurs with shocking frequency. Even looking at the wrong object can kill you. The only death that really matters is failing to find enough torches, because they burn on a real-time timer and serve as the de facto failure state of the game. The music that warns you that your torch is running out is horrifying.
  • Silent Hill 2 does not feature a life metre as such, instead showing your screenshot in the Pause menu becoming hazier and changing colour. However, in-game, once you start taking damage, your controller starts to vibrate in the manner of a heartbeat. And it speeds up and gets stronger as you become increasingly injured. And your own heartbeat climbs in sync with it.
  • In The Sims 4, very emotional Sims will have the color of their emotion highlighted by a noticeable border. When your Sim is in danger of death by emotion, the border starts flashing.
  • When Sonic the Hedgehog is about to drown, the music changes to another theme. The drowning music gets louder and more frantic as time goes on until he dies, gets a bubble or resurfaces. This is usually accompanied by numbers appearing over his head to indicate how much time he has left. And given his Super Drowning Skills, the drowning music always plays for a short and disturbing time until air is gotten. 'Ding' noises are hears at intervals before this happens, which is useful because Sonic's Oxygen Meter isn't actually visible.
  • In Spectre (1991), normally a clanking sound plays when you take a hit, but when your tank sustains critical damage, a klaxon sounds instead.
  • In Spore's Space Stage, low Spaceship Health and Energy both have their own Critical Annoyance sound, though the latter is more infamous due to it being so much more common in the normal course of play.
  • The 2001 remake of Spy Hunter mostly averts the trope, which makes the times when this trope does occur more egregious. The Interceptor, despite having a talking AI, only gives you audio warnings at various stages (50%, 25%, 10%) of damage. Of course, when the vehicle is visibly disposing of most of its body to turn into a motorcycle at the 25% mark, it makes the latter two warnings redundant. The devs also saw fit to have her tell you when you've completed or failed objectives, injured civilians, or when you approach a Weapons Van or level end.
  • Star Fox 64 plays this every time you're hit with your shields low; a similar siren in the Solar stage tells you the same thing but continuously, under the logic that it's so goddamn hot that your shields decrease over time. The Solar alarm is of a lower pitch, volume, and speed than the "damaged while critical" alarm. This softer alarm will also continuously play anywhere your shields are low and you're not being shot to trigger the more frantic one.
  • Star Trek: New Worlds had the classic Red Alert alarm going off whenever your units are under attack. It will sound multiple times whenever more of your units are under attack.
  • R2-D2 screaming in just about any Star Wars game he's in. Though in some games (such as Star Wars Trilogy Arcade), he does so when you die, rather than when your life runs low. It's especially bad in the Rogue Squadron games, since losing R2 also means you can't regenerate your shields.
  • Steel Battalion has a few little alerts when you take damage, along with screen-shake and all that. When you start getting really low, more and more lights and alarms will start going off, and when you're about to go boom EVERYTHING is flashing, klaxons are screeching, panels are exploding, etc. All of this is horrible to play through, especially when you just know you're one good shot away from taking out the last enemy mech... It's also VITAL, because you'll know just when to hit the big old eject button. Otherwise you die, and the game erases your save.
  • Sunset Overdrive has an increasingly fast EKG beep, which goes flatline upon death.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The 3D Super Mario Bros games. Whenever Mario's health is critical, he begins breathing heavily when idle. Sunshine upped the ante by having him sound exhausted with half-hearted "Woo"s and "Yeah"s.
    • Yoshi's Island:
      • The three Yoshi's Island games have this in the form of the babies' shrill crying. And you only have to get hit once for this to happen. The cry was actually made more annoying during development because testers weren't as focused on recovering their baby as the devs thought they should be.
      • Strangely, for being an ape, Baby Donkey Kong in Yoshi's Island DS isn't that annoying at all. Baby Mario is still unbearable. And Baby Wario and Bowser are even worse.
      • At least in the first game, there's also a loud beeping if your timer (basically your health meter) dips under ten seconds and Baby Mario's still not on your back. The timer's number turns red and significantly larger until it refills back up to ten again.
      • And in Yoshi's Story, the music would lose its rhythm and go off-key whenever your life-meter-flower lost all its petals. The flower would also turn blue and frown, and Yoshi would sit down and start panting while idle.
    • Paper Mario:
      • In the Paper Mario series, there's a repetitive beep that sounds off if Mario (or, in Thousand-Year Door, the current partner) lets his HP drop below 5. The pitch increases if his HP is allowed to hit 1. In the first two, this noise only occurs in combat, letting the only indication that Mario's health needs improving be a relatively quiet gasping when you let him stand still. (Outside of combat, the partners don't make noise when they're low, but they show visible signs of exhaustion.)
      • In Super Paper Mario, the first-level Critical Annoyance only starts when you're at or below 20% of your current max HP. So, at level 1 (10 HP), you have to drop to 2 HP for it to happen. No matter your level or max HP, second-level Critical Annoyance still happens at 1 HP left.
      • In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the music changes once you reach low health. It's less annoying than it is catchy, though.
    • The Mario & Luigi series has no critical noise, but the Bros will have exhausted idle animations. In an instance of KO annoyance, if one brother hits zero HP, the other will have to dodge attacks while holding them, which adds a noticeable delay to their moves.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has this for a low battery warning for the Wii Remote. Over long play sessions, expect to hear that beeping sound and see that red battery meter incessantly.
    • Although not in relation to a life meter, Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit have a warning beep if you were 5th place or lower (in Super it only played during the final lap) and would keep playing until the race ended or you moved up the ranks. Coming in 5th or lower costs you a life, so it does somewhat act like a low life warning.
    • Luigi's Mansion: When his health is low there is an annoying heartbeat sound, and whenever you get hit, Luigi cries out in agony. Also, pressing A normally has Luigi call out, "Mario?". As his health lowers, he sounds increasingly scared ("M-M-Mario?").
      • Luigi's Mansion 3: When Luigi's health gets low the music is completely muted and replaced with a two-tone sound that also makes the Joy-Con vibrate.
  • Super Monkey Ball has the announcer, who will yell at you to HURRY UP! when time is running low. The series also has a countdown to the time limit.
  • In Super Scope 6, (at least) five of the games had some kind of alarm: "Blastris A" and "Blastris B" would speed up the music when blocks are one line away from the left/top, all three "LazerBlazer" games had an alarm ringing when you're down to one HP (from a total of 5), and of those three, "Engage" added a second alarm for enemy missiles and a third one when your fuel is about to run out.
  • The Syphon Filter series has the interface flash red and the words HEAD SHOT appear when a sniper is targeting your head.
  • System Shock had a siren in your HUD that would blare if your health went below red after damage, and most times it would also synchronize to the background music. There's also Citadel Station's emergency klaxon that isn't heard until late in the game when you start the reactor's self-destruct sequence, though that alarm is less prevalant in-game, fortunately.
  • Tales Series
    • Each character in Tales of Symphonia has their own "We're screwed" line.
    • Every character in Tales of Vesperia has a few unique "I'm screwed" lines to let you know they're at low health, as well as a line to let you know that Repede is at low health. He's a dog, he can't really say it himself.
    • Tales of the Abyss also has this, with quotes to let you know if you've been hit by a powerful attack or if you're near death. Oddly enough, one of Jade's low-health quotes is "looks like we're still okay," meaning he often says that after surviving an attack that has just killed everyone else. Although that's quite in character, actually. Bonus points if you have Anise in the party who will reply with "We are SO not okay".
  • From Team Fortress 2:
    • "Alert! Our last Control Point is being captured!" and all variants thereof for all of the various mission types. The "Last Control Point" one is especially bad, since in 5-point Control maps, the last point (which is always just outside the defending players' spawn) usually can be solo-capped in only a few scant seconds. So if someone isn't already getting them off of it by the time the alert sounds, it's probably too late anyway.
    • The Announcer's various alerts are so annoying that some players will use her to troll the enemy by repeatedly dropping or picking up the intelligence, stepping on or off the control point when there's no opposition, or triggering the "Overtime!" glitch on servers that have it enabled.
    • In Mann versus Machine, the various "[Class] is dead!" responses can be this if your team gets overrun.
    • The pinging noise that plays if you're playing Medic and enabled the option for teammates to auto-call for healing also applies, alongside said teammates manually calling for you to heal them.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1988 has an alarm clock-style health warning beep.
  • Time Crisis: "DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!" Better duck to avoid losing a life! There's also the obligatory beep when the timer is running low.
  • Thunder Force V and VI flash "DANGER" signs to alert you of otherwise-unpredictable hazards. Some players complain that it makes the game suckingly easy.
  • In Transformers: War for Cybertron, getting low on health triggers an Interface Screw where red warning text in alien script starts popping up, the corners of the screen begin to turn fuzzy and the audio becomes muted. Fortunately, all you have to do to rectify this is wait outside the line of fire for your health bar to regenerate.
  • Trauma Center usually ups the volume of the heart monitor once vitals fall below a certain point, and your assistant will also warn you. Gets a bit ridiculous on harder difficulty levels (where vitals drop quicker) - if the drain is fast enough, you might hear the assistant complaining multiple times in a matter of seconds as you approach 25 health and stab in the stabilizer.
    • Trauma Team one-ups this with a shrill beeping alarm whenever vitals fall that low. The raised heart monitor sounds are a lot more subtle in comparison.
  • In the early Amstrad CPC game Tubaruba, when your energy bar depleted enough, the constant background music became rather wonky and unsettling...
  • Twisted Metal:
    • Black uses a klaxon as a low-health warning.
    • Head On also uses a klaxon, and it has an annoying siren that constantly loops when you're low on health. ...BooEEEP... "Health is low" ...BooEEEEP...
  • Two Worlds: When your character's health is low, you hear heartbeat. If it's really low, you hear a gong sound in addition to the heartbeat.
  • Tyrian features a positively ear-splitting klaxon that sounds when your ship is low on armor and gets faster the lower your ship's armor is.
  • In some versions of Ultima IV (the Master System one, for example) the Avatar's every movement is accompanied by a high-pitched "clash" sound-effect if the party runs out of food, with the warning "Starving!!" spamming the text window. Fair enough considering the perilous HP loss that accompanies periods of starvation, but it does mean a very noisy immediate future while you trek to the nearest Moongate or food-producing town, or more likely, just wander incessantly until your whole party is dead and Lord British rescues you from the void.
  • While Unreal Tournament doesn't have an aural indication, your health indicator will start flashing if you have less than 50 health. The ChaosUT mod adds a heartbeat sound. Not that you'll be able to hear it.
  • If your Energy bar is low in Verdant Skies, the screen gets blurrier and blurrier, starting from the edges.
  • "Don't get caught! / Keep going! x meters till goal / till rival crosses finish" and the accompanying alarm from Wangan Midnight. Particularly embarrassing is if you're trailing so far behind that "Keep going!" doesn't even appear—you just get your opponent's distance to the finish.
  • Warframe will a play a quiet yet rapid beeping when you are low on health and out of shields. Once your shield starts regenerating, the beeping will stop even if you still have only a tiny fraction of your HP.
  • In WinBack, the music speeds up and intensifies when your health gets low.
  • Most of the Wing Commander games have an obnoxiously loud Eject warning that appears when the game calculates that the next hit is likely to destroy your fighter. This cannot be turned off, although fortunately it goes away after your Deflector Shields have regenerated a bit... assuming your shield subsystem isn't too badly damaged, that is.
    • Wing Commander 1 also has alternate music that plays during combat when the player's fighter is badly damaged. The different ports call it either "You're Severely Damaged," "Floundering," or "Time to Eject." It's a repetitive, discordant "Psycho" Strings melody, as the SNES version demonstrates.
  • Wizards & Warriors would start playing cheerful music when your health got low.
  • Wonder Boy in Monster Land has an irritating "bleep bleep balaleep bleep bleep"(arcade version) or "woowoowoowooweet"(SMS version) low health alarm.
  • World of Warcraft: "Not enough rage." "I need more rage." Coming right up. Fortunately, these can be turned off, and have been by default since at least patch 3.0, although the UI interface sounds that replace them and can't be turned off without addons are almost as annoying.
    • "I'm out of range." "I'm too far away!" "I'm out of range!" Poor young mages who sit at a distance, casting spells while it yells at them...
      • Not nearly as annoying as trying to level as a Fire Mage. When Pyroblast, the mainstay pulling spell, had a 6s cast time. Pretty much necessary to nail that one from max range if you didn't want to be torn to shreds while soloing.
    • In seeming contradiction of the above, however, many addons add sound effects to the game to warn players of critical situations, including low health or mana and when they are about to be hit by a dangerous boss attack, among other things.
      • Such mods typically use a single alert sound when you drop below a certain threshold of mana or health, telling you to moderate your usage or use some form of recovery skill. The "I can't do that" sounds play only when you can't perform the action, but by that time it's often too late to do anything about it.
      • Some addons then fall right back into this trope when they spam a "Need Heal" message into the group channel. Many healers will intentionally not heal a group member who does that since it is so annoying tends to scroll actually useful messages off the chat window.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, using the party's ability to combine into a Humongous Mecha makes the participants invincible, but replaces their HP bar with a steadily filling heat gauge, which starts beeping around the three-quarters mark and forcibly cancels the transformation when full, leaving you unable to use it again for much longer than if you manually drop out. The beeping exists in-universe as well, and the party express their annoyance at it near the start of Chapter 4. It turns out to have a good reason for existing, though: if the warning goes ignored, which a villainous pair do with their own combination, it means you're about to explode.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The English dub of Chobits, with Sumomo's frequent high-pitched "WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!", almost always indicating an extremely trivial threat. It's amazing no one ever smashes her with a hammer to get that noise to stop.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within does something similar. When General Hein is firing the Kill Sat, he brushes off the increasingly insistent computer's warnings that he's overheating the system with louder and more annoyed iterations of "I know!!" Bad idea.


  • Spoofed in a TV commercial for Centraal Beheer, a.k.a. the Apeldoorn insurance company. A man who works in an ambulance is used to the beeping sound of the life support equipment, and responds to it by defibrillating the patient. Eventually, his team gets a brand new ambulance. During its first real pickup, they have to back out of a street... causing the car to emit a beeping sound because it is going in reverse...


  • Lampshaded in Iron Man when the suit's AI keeps reminding Tony Stark how low he is getting on energy.
    Stark: I KNOW! Just leave it on the screen!
  • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, rather than an alarm klaxon, the refitted Enterprise had a tinny disembodied voice that would say, "Red Alert! Red Alert! The ship is on Red Alert!"
  • In the animated film WALL•E, the titular robot has a battery gauge that flashes red when his energy is nearly depleted.

Live-Action TV

  • The Dharma hatch timer in Lost, which must be reset every 108 minutes. After 104 minutes, the timer emits a steady alarm beep as the seconds tick down. This turns to a loud klaxon for the final minute, which speeds up as it approaches zero until it is reset.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series frequently shows meters and red alerts or has the ship computer or a crewmember declare that the ship's power is low or how long the ship has before it is to be destroyed, occasionally with Kirk or another senior officer looking exasperated at the news. Notable example: in "The Corbomite Maneuver", Balok threatens to destroy the Enterprise, giving the ship a ten-minute countdown. Sulu keeps a diligent track of the remaining time, much to the annoyance of the rest of the bridge crew.
    Sulu: Four minutes, thirty seconds.
    Scott: You have an annoying fascination for timepieces, Mister Sulu.
  • In the Rome: Total War-based game show Time Commanders, the team was warned of imminent victory or defeat by a blaring siren, flashing lights and a voice announcing "Victory Imminent" or "Defeat Imminent". This text would also appear flashing across the screen the team was using to direct the battle. Now, if the message was "Victory Imminent", this would be the show's Most Wonderful Sound — but having "Defeat Imminent" blasted all over their efforts turned more than one team into a catatonic mess.
  • Possible Trope Maker, at least in Japanese media: The toku series Ultraman, with the title hero's signature warning light will turn from solid blue to blinking red with an accompanying chime whenever he's running out of energy. When he's running on fumes, it gets higher-pitched and more frantic. Many of his numerous successors have one as well. Considering how the Pokémon series was partially inspired by the Capsule Monsters used by Ultraman's successor, it's highly likely that the warning sound used there is derived from this series.


  • Tamagotchi would shut down all interaction with the handheld device whenever the battery got low and would flash a low battery symbol constantly until it the battery either ran completely out or was replaced (apparently to avoid save data loss/corruption). However, these alerts (which were impossible to bypass without one of the above solutions) were known to last for days to weeks on end, making users wonder how low the battery could've possibly been.

Microsoft Windows

  • The system tray notifications are notorious for this, especially if hard disk space is running out.
  • Vista constantly reminds you that your user account control is disabled. Even if you did it yourself. Years earlier.
  • Windows 7 has a feature that automatically disables the Aero theme if you're running demanding applications, such as games. When it does so, it of course 'helpfully' pops up a focus-stealing notification window to let you know. The window does include a "don't do that, and in fact never do that ever again" button, but it doesn't appear to work properly, even if you click that it's going to do it again the next time you run the application.

Real Life

  • Plain old pain can be this. A paper cut is hardly a critical injury, but it causes your body to scream at you about how it's been damaged, and most everyone knows what it's like to have a random cramp pop up in a limb, the back, or elsewhere just as you're trying to do something important or get a job over with. What's actually worse though is having congenital analgesia, a rare condition where you can't feel any kind of pain at all. People with it are very prone to self-injury and permanent disfiguration, such as by biting off portions of their tongues, suffering horrible burns because they can't feel hot objects, or being unable to notice muscle strains, bone fractures, and infections.
    • Chronic pain is even more of the same old fun, because it's your body basically telling you "Oh, remember that thing about your body that doesn't work? Don't worry, I've got about 500 reminders lined up throughout your day."
  • Smoke detectors go off at any sign of smoke, even if it's something harmless like burnt food, a lit match, or even water vapor from a hot shower or the like. The sounds are very high pitched and annoying, but they are that way so that you can wake up should a fire break out while you sleep. However, if the alarm always goes off because of something harmless, most people will decide to just take out the battery to shut it up, which is always a fatal mistake when a real fire breaks out.
    • Smoke alarms also make a loud, high-pitched chirp repeatedly when the battery is low.
    • Studies showed that the sound most likely to wake a sleeping child was the sound of a parent's voice ordering them to wake up. So some retailers sell alarm clocks and smoke detectors that allow you to record a message.
  • Babies crying is at a frequency designed to get attention. There's a reason the Yoshi's Island screaming is so annoying. The evolutionary reason is that babies that made these cries were far more likely to survive than ones who failed to get their caregivers' attention. The reason why nails on a blackboard is so irritating is that it's close in frequency to a baby's cry.
    • People hope to hear a baby start crying right after birth to show that it's breathing properly.
    • Not so much of an annoyance as much of something that's surely going to get your attention, but the loud, prolonged meow of cat breeds such as the Siamese are thought to trigger the same areas of the brain as a baby crying; through selective breeding, humans managed to create an animal which can get humans to pay attention to it in the same way a baby needing attention does, intentionally or not!
  • Cars that not only turn on a "Low Fuel" idiot light when you get down to your last gallon/5 liters or last estimated 50 miles/100 kilometers driving distance, but ding at you every thirty seconds and/or flash annoying messages across the in-dash electronics cluster. If the car has an onboard navigation system, it may get in on the act too, "helpfully" shutting off the audio system and showing you a route to the nearest gas station.
    • Then there's the proximity sensor on some cars. Like a crit warning klaxon, they're meant to warn you of danger (such as the risk of reversing into a mailbox). Also like said klaxons, they are so goddamn annoying that you usually end up more careless than usual, since you're more eager to shut them the hell up than you are to avoid scraping your rear bumper.
    • And when you're due for an oil change - regardless of what maintenance schedule the manufacturer actually recommends. Cars haven't needed a change every 3 months/3,000 miles for years, but tell that to the alarm programmers.
    • Also, the horn. Might seem mundane... but go to any major city and try listening to ten thousand car horns honking at the same time.
    • A few new cars now also have the annoying ding when you don't put your seat belt on. (And they can tell when there's a passenger in the passenger seat, too.) Worse still, the sensors that detect this can be easily tricked by having heavy items on the seats, which are mistaken for passengers.
    • And also to warn when you reach a higher speed. Might be useful to prevent tickets inside city limits, but not so much when you're on a freeway, that allows and even enforces going fast.
    • Some Chrysler models from The '80s take this to the next level with the Electronic Voice Alert option. Most owners just disconnected it since it was more of a nuisance than anything else. [1]
    • The VW Passat has an audible alert for low windshield washer fluid. This is supposed to only sound once per journey, but the sensor is overly sensitive to sloshing inside the reservoir. If it's much less than half full you can expect to hear the alert every time you go around a corner.
    • The warning systems are malfunctioning cause warning chimes to go off every fifteen seconds, with no way to make them stop. This has driven people to sell otherwise perfectly working luxury cars. Worse, this carries the same risk as the above-described overzealous smoke alarm — the driver learns to ignore the warnings, and thus won't notice until too late if something really goes wrong.
    • The Honda Civic 2004's brake wear indicator is specifically designed to mimic the sound of fingernails on a blackboard in order to get you to take it to the workshop and implore the service people to fix your brakes and get rid of that stupid noise.
  • More Truth In Television: The "low battery" sound on cell phones, particularly stupid when you realize it runs down the battery quicker.
    • At least one phone will make low battery beeps when the phone is supposed to be on silent.
    • The constantly flashing LEDs of some Bluetooth devices can be irritating, too.
    • Not just cell phones. APC back-up power sources do that when running on battery, too - a very loud BEEP-BEEP-BEEP every minute or so. Good thing this can be turned off.
    • The Jabra Freeway Bluetooth Speaker interrupts 2 way conversation completely to say "low battery" once a minute.
      • Bluetooth headphones. Every 5 seconds, at best. And you can't disable it.
    • Also on cell phones, most just ring once when a message arrives. Others will keep on playing the "new message!" sound in regular intervals until you read the thing. This can be a hassle if you are driving, unless you silence your phone in advance.
  • Subverted in Real Life: often in hospitals, you'll hear important-looking equipment make dangerous sounding noises that mean nothing, or are the result of glitches. The staff know this, but it can worry the visitors who are used to beeping noises on medical dramas ALWAYS meaning someone is about to die.
  • The messaging program ICQ had a flower icon that showed if you were logged in (green) or not (red). A later update turned it yellow if you were logged in, but couldn't connect to the server. That's nice, but it also popped up a message that explained this fact, even though this should be obvious already. This function could not be turned off. Worse, the popup always stole focus so you'd read it, which means that you'd lose focus from the game or other program you were using at the time... which had a tendency to crash the program. In other words, your game just crashed seconds away from a save point because of a pointless message informing you of something you couldn't do anything about, and didn't care much about most of the time anyway. Not many people use ICQ nowadays.
  • EU legislation forces a volume cap on MP3 players. When the volume has been above a certain level for too long, a Sony Walkman will play a painfully high-pitched beeping which is often far louder than the current volume, making you tear your earphones from your head until it's over and you can return the sound to normal. Since you can neither disable nor adjust it - regardless of actual headphone volume, that damn warning will play every twenty hours or so and always at the worst possible time.
  • Software for cloud stage services will warn you if you are uploading to your account with very little space left. Mostly this is understandable, but iCloud is really bad with this as it will remind you every ten or so minutes.
  • While there are usually some "train approaches" warning signs on all grade crossings, FRA regulations in the US go quite some steps further than regulations in the rest of the developed world. Not only are there to be boom gates, signs and lights on the crossing itself, no the train is also to sound its horn miles before actually reaching the crossing - no matter what time of night or day it is. No wonder most Americans have strong feelings against new rail construction. It is possible to apply for so called "quiet zones" where trains don't have to sound their horns as much, but that requires more investment as well as a lengthy and bureaucratic permit process in the crossing infrastructure and few railroads are willing or able to do that.
  • A Radar Warning Receiver can be a Critical Annoyance for a slightly different reason. Used in military aircraft, it's to warn pilots they're probably about to be damaged because the enemy has them on radar and may open fire. In addition to visually displaying range and bearing, allowing the pilot to attempt to evade the threat, it also generates audible tones if it thinks a weapon has been fired.
    • Far more common is the stall alarm. Very few pilots, even military pilots, will be exposed to it. Even a student pilot must experience multiple stall alarms during their training, if only when asked to intentionally stall and recover from stall.

Non-Video Games

  • In most iterations of Real Escape Game, a deep, hellish ambient noise begins to play at 5 minutes remaining (out of the 60-minute time limit), and slowly gets louder as time runs out. At 10 seconds remaining, it suddenly gets much louder, while the announcer calls out the remaining time by the second, until the timer reaches 0, and then...silence. Game Over.


Video Example(s):


The Death of Alien Metron Jr.

At the climax of the first act of Ace's rematch against Alien Metron Jr. and Doragory, Ace manages to deal with the alien in a particularly badass yet simultaneously gruesome way, courtesy of his Vertical Guillotine, cutting him neatly in half lengthways! Still, the battle isn't over; as Ace's Colour Timer begins to blink, he now has to face off against the extremely-strong Terrible-Monster Doragory, who's still able to put up quite the fight.

How well does it match the trope?

4.57 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HalfTheManHeUsedToBe

Media sources: