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Dying Vocal Change

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Sometimes, a dying character's voice undergoes some kind of change — not in the mundane sense, by sounding a bit hoarser or a bit more clogged with blood than usual, but actually transforming in mid-demise.

Maybe it's because the character's an A.I. suffering from some kind of Electronic Speech Impediment as they finally break down; maybe it's because they're a shapeshifter and returning to their true form at the moment of death; or maybe they're having some kind of fatal transformation forced on them — a character who undergoes Death by De-aging will sound progressively younger, for example.

Whatever the case, their voice changes as they slowly expire. May involve Dying as Yourself in some cases. This trope plus a catchphrase equals Pre-Mortem Catchphrase and Alternate Catchphrase Inflection.

If a particular localized pain causes a vocal change rather than death, that's Instant Soprano.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Gemini Saint in Saint Seiya has two personalities in one body. After he is struck by Athena's staff during their first (and last) confrontation, his "good" half briefly emerges and asks the goddess to forgive the "evil" half. In the anime, this is marked by a change in hair color and voice. In the Italian dub, the voice actor of the "good" half is female.
  • Roboppi in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS gained sentience and free will after being affected by Ai's backup program. While he was fine at first, it later became clear that the program became too much for him since he was originally made for household work. As a result, he broke down during his duel against Soulburner and his voice started shifting till he regressed to his original voice and form until Soulburner gave him a Mercy Kill.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • In The Holy Terror, the prison dimension finally ceases to exist when Eugene Tacitus commits suicide with the Child's assistance. With the prisoner dead, the Child's purpose is complete, causing him to slowly cease to exist; as he does so, his voice audibly ages into that of Eugene himself before fading away entirely. For good measure, both Eugene and the Child are voiced by the same actor, albeit digitally altered to sound more childlike in the latter case.
    • After getting blasted by the delusional Central Committee in Spare Parts, Cyberman Commander Zheng's distinctive sing-song speech grows slower and more ponderous as he breaks down — apparently dying after helping the Doctor save Mondas from the Committee. However, this is later subverted when Zheng turns up alive at the very end of the story, ready to begin the Cyberman project once again.
    • Another Cyberman example crops up in The Harvest. Here, a Cyber-Leader known as Subject One is being surgically converted into a human being at his own request, and as a result, his voice is almost completely human for most of the story. However, graft rejection undermines the process, resulting in Subject One's voice turning metallic towards the end of the story; when his minions are switched off and he can no longer force the Doctor to perform the surgery that might save him, the ex-Cyber-Leader is quickly reduced to hysterically begging for help in an electronically distorted voice, ultimately flatlining as the Doctor calmly walks off.
    • During the climax of Singularity, Great Quel is about to be evicted from Dr Pushkin's body and flushed back to the end of time with all the other Somnus cult leaders. However, Pushkin realizes that Quel cannot be allowed to escape or else she'll just start her body-snatching experiments all over again, and instead uses her willpower to trap Quel's mind inside her body so that they'll die together when the Somnus Tower explodes. The two of them spend their last few minutes fluctuating wildly between two different voices as they struggle for dominance — one speaking in Quel's Received Pronunciation, the other speaking with Pushkin's Russian accent.
    • In yet another Cybermen example, Legend of the Cybermen features a Cyber-Planner attempting to take over the Land Of Fiction, even becoming a Reality Warper in the process. However, thanks to the efforts of The Doctor, Captain Nemo, and Count Dracula, it's successfully hacked with a cybermat and forced to use the power it's usurped to edit itself and the Cybermen out of existence. As a result, the Cyber-Planner's normally low-pitched voice turns high-pitched and shrieking as it declares that Cybermen do not exist, before vanishing in a Puff of Logic.
    • In I, Davros: Corruption, the title character's mother ends up getting fatally mutated by deliberately exposing herself and an enemy spy to one of Davros' radiation-projecting machines. By the time Lady Calcula is found, she's dying and her voice has degenerated into a warped, Voice of the Legion-style drone complete with Vader Breath.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Land of What Might-Have-Been, the monster known as the Hellion speaks in a Shifting Voice of Madness rendered in a jumbled patchwork of bold, italic, underlined, and all-caps text. When Dorothy manages to fatally wound her, however, the shifting factor begins fading away as the Hellion slowly succumbs to her injuries, leaving her with an ordinary human voice in her final moments.
  • Early on in Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, we see L use a Death Note on Light's Mom for the purposes of controlling her to send a threatening message to Dark. Once the Death Note takes effect and makes her give Dark the message, the narration tells us that she said it “in a strange voice that wasn’t hers”.

    Films — Animation 
  • As the Other World begins to break down in Coraline, the Other Mother's creations begin to break down as well; as such, when the eponymous heroine confronts the Other Bobinsky for the last time, his voice is decaying along with the rest of him. Originally as loud and hammy as the original Bobinsky, the duplicate's tones have since become quavering and faint; then, as he speaks his final lines, his voice goes full-blown Voice of the Legion... right before he loses the ability to maintain a solid form and dissolves into a swarm of rats.
  • After getting his burlap skin stripped away in the finale of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie-Boogie is revealed to be a colossal mass of insects, and without the cloth holding them in place, he begins to fall apart. As a result, as more and more bugs begin to fall off him, his usual baritone grows higher and rapidly dissolves into dozens of tiny voices as the swarm comes apart; since most of them end up in the deathtrap he was intending for Sally and Santa Claus, he's left with only one surviving bug to escape with, squeaking out his last words in a near-incomprehensible falsetto — right before Santa Claus squashes him flat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey provides one of the most famous examples of this trope, with HAL-9000's mostly human voice growing steadily lower and more ponderous as he is slowly shut down.
  • In Alien, Ash's voice becomes quite distinctly synthetic after being decapitated and unveiled as an android. Played with, given that he doesn't actually "die" until Parker incinerates him with a flamethrower, but it's apparent that he's been damaged beyond repair and not likely to survive anyway.
  • In the climax of Child's Play, as Chucky lays dying, his last words are to recite his Good Guy Doll catchphrase, with his voice rising at the end from his natural adult-sounding one to the childlike voice of the doll.
    Chucky: Hi, I'm Chucky, wanna plaaaaaaaaay...?
  • Constantine (2005): After being shot in the head and having his face reduced to a clump of talking shards, Balthazar's otherwise-human voice becomes a haunting, ethereal whisper — up until Gabriel destroys him, causing his last word to drop to a low, deep roar as he's disintegrated.
  • In Day of the Dead (1985), one of Rhodes' men has his head pulled off, and his scream rises in pitch as his vocal cords stretch, before finally snapping. This is Truth in Television, by the way; the narrower your vocal cords, the higher your voice is.
  • In Hellboy (2019), Gruagach ends up outliving his usefulness and is fatally shrunk back down by Nimue. Over the course of the next few seconds, his deep voice rises higher and higher, until a two-foot-tall Gruagach is left screaming his last words in a childish falsetto. Then he pops like a blister.
  • Having been speaking in an ordinary human voice for the last third of The Mummy (1999), Imhotep's voice begins to deepen after getting stabbed in the stomach by Rick, until he finally reverts to his original deep, booming Voice of the Legion as he decomposes back into a mummy and sinks down into one of Hamunaptra's deep pools.
  • Pointedly averted in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps: during his Death by De-aging, Buddy Love somehow retains an adult voice even after being regressed into a toddler and then into a puddle of rapidly dissolving slime.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Return of the Jedi, the redeemed Darth Vader is mortally wounded by the Emperor and his life support system is damaged beyond repair; so, in his final moments, he has Luke remove his mask so he can see him with "his own eyes". Without the mask, Vader's voice goes from his usual electronically enhanced basso profundo to Anakin Skywalker's natural speaking voice — an aged, dying whisper.
    • In Attack of the Clones, the shapeshifting bounty hunter known as Zam Wesell is shot with a poisoned dart by Jango Fett in order to prevent her from spilling her secrets to Anakin and Obi-Wan. As she dies, she reverts to her normal form, her voice shifting and distorting to Voice of the Legion proportions as she does so. For good measure, she reverts to speaking Huttese as well.
  • For most of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 has been speaking in perfectly legible English with Robert Patrick's distinctive voice, even while in its liquid metal form. However, after being blown out of shape with a grenade launcher and tumbling into a pool of molten steel, it can only emit high-pitched metallic screeching sounds in lieu of speech; as a result, the T-1000's Shapeshifter Swan Song is spent screaming like fingernails on a blackboard as it slowly melts.
  • In the finale of The Witches (1990), the Grand High Witch is transformed into a mouse along with all the other witches at the banquet; with her voice having audibly changed along with her, she can only squeak incomprehensible orders... right before the hotel manager chops her in half. It's not known why this happened, given that Luke, Bruno, and even other transformed witches have all been heard to speak in perfectly ordinary human voices as mice, but there you go.

  • Makes an appearance in Animorphs #37: here, the Yeerk Inspector inhabits the body of a Garatron and thus talks as quickly as he moves, his dialog normally being rendered without spaces as a result. In the climax, however, Marco manages to bite him on the leg while in cobra morph; as the Inspector succumbs to the venom, his speech finally breaks up into single words, then grows steadily more halting until he cannot speak at all.
  • The Dark Tower: Blaine the Mono, while suffering a fatal Logic Bomb after being beaten at the game of riddles by Eddie, is reduced to screaming his last words in the voice of an infant before reverting to an apparent Electronic Speech Impediment.
  • In the Funfax INTER Active Secret Agent file Orbit Of Fear, sabotaging the robots' recharging station in advance will result in Mr. Mogul's synthetic actors shutting down just before the deadly gameshow railroads you into an unwinnable fight. As a result, Cracky Dean's attempts to continue the show become slower and flatter as he breaks down, all rendered in loving detail in the cassette tape included with the book.
    Well, that's a turn-up for the books! T-Rex... has... stopped. We'll. Be. Back. After. These. Messages...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Ghost Light": The villain Light usually speaks in one of two vocal modes: a very high-pitched, almost effeminate tone of voice, or a deep, menacing snarl. However, when the Doctor springs a Breaking Speech on Light and convinces him that stopping change is impossible since Light himself has begun to change, the godlike bureaucrat commits suicide by dissipating himself — whereupon his voice grows lower and hoarser until he's muttering his last few words in a halting, ethereal whisper.
    • Combined with This Was His True Form in "Survival": Karra the Cheetah-person normally speaks in an electronically-distorted voice, making her sound more animalistic; after being fatally stabbed in the chest by the Master, she reverts to her original human form and her voice changes accordingly as she dies.
    • "The Parting of the Ways": Jack Harkness tries to slow the Dalek attack on Satellite 5 by deploying the Anne-Droid against them. To her credit, she manages to stop three of them with her transmat beam and a snappy recitation of "You are the weakest link!" But then another Dalek arrives and blasts her head off, leaving her voice to wind down to a digitally-distorted drone as she concludes "Goodbye..."
    • "Sleep No More": 474 usually speaks in an artificially-deepened voice, as one of the indicators that she's actually a force-grown Grunt. However, after being fatally wounded, the deepening effect fades away, leaving 474 to speak her final words in an ordinary human voice.
  • Farscape:
  • In the finale of The Haunting of Hill House (2018), Steve ends up getting trapped inside the Red Room and pacified with an illusion of a happy life with Leigh — who is now pregnant. However, the moment Steve realizes that none of this is real, the Room turns the scenario into a nightmare: Leigh's belly begins to swell to horrific proportions as black mold eats her from the inside out; now speaking in the Voice of the Legion, she remarks that this will continue until she bursts open — though Nellie is fortunately able to awaken Steve from the nightmare before this happens.
  • The Orville: After Isaac kills Kaylon Primary by ripping his head off, the latter continues functioning just long enough to curse Isaac, as his voice slows down and sounds more robotic.
  • During the climax of The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Last Supper," the unscrupulous Dr. Sinclair is finally able to create his Fountain of Youth drug from the blood of the immortal test subject he's just recaptured. As such, he decides to give himself a dose... only to find out that he underestimated its potency by a very wide margin: over the course of the horrific-looking Death by De-aging that follows, Sinclair's agonized screams audibly regress to infancy along with him, growing steadily higher and younger until he's left as a baby lying helplessly on the floor. Then he dissolves into a puddle of unborn cells.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "Queeg", Holly is executed by deletion in a pretty clear shout-out to HAL-9000: while singing a farewell song of "I'll Say Goodbye To Love," his voice drops lower and lower until he finally fades away... up until it turns out that the events of the episode were faked by Holly, including his "death".
    • A similar instance of this trope occurs in "The Last Day", when Hudzen 10 suffers a metaphysical dichotomy as a result of being told that there's no such thing as Silicon Heaven: treating this as a full-blown Logic Bomb, Huzen's voice slows to a drone and trails off as he breaks down.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • In the episode "Descent," Data's brother Lore is finally deactivated for good, his voice slowly plunges into a slow-motion drone as Data forcibly shuts him down.
    • In the episode "The Offspring," Data's daughter Lal suffers a cascade failure and is dying, her voice winding down abruptly with her final word: human.

    Video Games 
  • Killing the Working Joe androids in Alien: Isolation will occasionally result in them reciting "to sleep, perchance to dream" in a much lower pitch — further distorted by the fact that the Working Joes often cough up white fluid as they die.
  • Upon Adam the Clown's defeat in Dead Rising, he falls on his own chainsaws and dies cackling like a maniac, but said laughter slowly begins to mysteriously echo and repeat itself like a Broken Record as if he were a malfunctioning robot, and it starts getting deeper and deeper as though he were a balloon being deflated until he finally stops when his laughter becomes little more than a demonically-deep grumble.
  • In Dead Space 2 you're eventually forced to shut down ANTI, a malfunctioning AI blocking your progress through the solar array; after taking a plasma cutter to her internal mechanisms, the Electronic Speech Impediment sets in hard, resulting in a long procession of Max Headroom-style stuttering before ANTI finally winds down into a slow-motion drone and shuts down.
  • In Deltarune, after defeating Spamton NEO, his post-battle cutscene will feature him talking with proper grammar as opposed to his normal all-caps speech, and without his Electronic Speech Impediment. He then turns into a weapon or an armor item depending on how the player defeated him.
    • If the player's inventory is full, however, he goes back to his regular way of speaking.
    Spamton: NOT [Cool] KRIS! I'LL BE IN MY [Trailer]!
  • Should the Courier choose to kill Mr. House in Fallout: New Vegas, his last words are uttered in a hoarse, sepulchral, rasp, instead of his usual confident smooth tones. In this case, it's because he's been disconnected from the computer system and artificial voice he usually speaks through.
  • After the player destroys the last of the personality cores in Portal, GLaDOS's voice begins to speed up as she undergoes a fatal malfunction, rendering her Boss Banter in unintelligible chipmunk speech before she finally explodes.
  • Appears in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy following the boss battle with Wei Lu. Having used her powers of illusion to pull a One-Winged Angel act, she reverts to human form after being mortally wounded; for good measure, she decides to deliver her last words in this state, her monstrously deep voice quickly returning to her natural speaking tone as she shrinks back down. Of course, given that she doesn't actually transform, this is presumably just for effect.
  • In Undertale, Toriel and Undyne's voices significantly lower in pitch just before they die.

    Web Videos 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Mecha-Freeza frequently bugs out and electronically stutters his next lines, apparently because his cyborg implants run on Windows 95. When he's finally cut in half by Trunks, he suffers a literal Blue Screen Of Death, and his horrified scream glitches into a hanging repeat of itself before he finally splits right down the middle — and then he goes silent as Trunks slices him to pieces and blasts him into oblivion.
    • Android 19 is meant to be the invoked Obvious Beta of Dr Gero's creations, and is voiced by a computer text-to-speech program; as such, when Vegeta finally blows him to pieces and reduces him to a malfunctioning head, 19 suffers an Electronic Speech Impediment before finally winding down into a slow-motion drone as he informs his killer that "Your 30-day trial has expired. Would you like to purchase WinRAR?"
    • Cell's victims exhibit lower and lower voices as he consumes them, resulting in their final screams being rendered as unintelligible growls until he finally drains them dry.
    • Demonstrated by Android 19 again in Dragon Ball Z Kai episode 3.1 — this time exhibiting a low-pitched drone while remarking "Father, I wish to be a real boy..."
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, The Major's voice takes on a distinct mechanical reverb after Seras blows him in half and it's revealed he's a cyborg as if he's speaking through a radio transmission or speech program. When he's shot through the head he eerily sings "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music, gradually sounding distorted like a machine losing battery power, before finally dying.
  • The Spoony Experiment: Parodied in Spoony's playthrough of Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh when Curtis manages to prevent the Hecatomb from pulling a Grand Theft Me, destroying his psychic projection in the process. Spoony jokingly dubs the Hecatomb with a Final Speech — groaning that his "emo powers" are fading, then belting out "craaaaaaaawling in my skiiiiiiiiin" in an increasingly lower voice before dying.
  • Vinny of Vinesauce has a Running Gag in his streams where he does an impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from Jingle All the Way who is "losing power" due to a lack of cookies. It starts off as a regular Schwarzenegger impression that gradually degrades into a very hoarse and raspy voice. The dialogue is usually his character begging his son to give him cookies.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • Spraying Markula with the garlic champagne naturally causes him to melt, but for some reason, his voice rises to Helium Speech as he sinks down into his robes.
    • The same applies to Rubber Man, whose voice rises as Frylock burns him alive with a flamethrower.
  • Batman Beyond: When his program is finally erased, Robert Vance's voice regresses back through childhood, stating progressively less impressive calculations until he's reduced to reciting "one potato two potato" in a child's voice, before calling out for his mother in the voice of an infant — then finally breaking down.
  • Men in Black: The Series: When quick clones finally run out of juice - or when someone hits the off-switch behind the clone's left ear - they first begin talking in disconnected gibberish, then their voices get steadily deeper and slower until they're reduced to burbling incoherently as their bodies dissolve into puddles of coffee-coloured goop. K, J, and L all get to demonstrate this process over the course of the series.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Rickmancing the Stone", Rick attempts to get around Morty and Summer's absence by creating robot duplicates to take their place at home. Tragically, the Morty robot gains sentience — and Rick has no qualms about wiping his personality and dismantling him when the real Morty returns; the robot puts up a valiant effort to resist deletion but is ultimately overridden, resulting in his final screams dropping to HAL-9000 levels as his personality is erased.