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Ear Trumpet

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The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fa—


Ahem. The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fashioned type of hearing aid that was fir—



The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fashioned type of hearing aid that was first invented in the 17th century. For the most part, they exist only as relics of older eras. However, they still serve a purpose in fiction.


Oh for the love of—

There are usually three types of Ear Trumpets in fiction:

  • Serving an accurate role in a Period Piece, where they reflect the setting.
  • Used for comedic effect, to make it obvious that the person cannot hear.
  • Another comedic usage, usually to illustrate how ridiculously old a character is.

Frequently accompanying an I Can't Hear You gag, and, if on the phone, a Funny Phone Misunderstanding.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Astro Boy: In the first episode of the 1963 series, an old scientist is seen using one while Dr. Boynton, who is having major Sanity Slippage over the death of his son, announces his plans to create a robotic son.
    Scientist: I believe that Dr. Boynton's going mad.
    Old Scientist: Eh?
    Scientist: I said I believe that Dr. Boynton's going mad!
    Old Scientist: Eh?
    Scientist: (shouting into the trumpet) I SAID I BELIEVE THAT DR. BOYNTON'S GOING MAD!
    Old Scientist: (also into the trumpet) Shhhhhh—!

  • Old timers in Lucky Luke are often seen with these, especially if said geezers are weakened to wheelchair condition. Usually the ear trumpet user still cannot hear and has to rely on someone else to personally deliver "what he says."
    • Well those are for deaf people, and he's just a little hard of hearing in one ear.
  • Professor Calculus of Tintin fame uses an ear trumpet in Destination Moon (which gets switched out at one point for the Captain's pipe). For the actual trip, he uses an earpiece that allows him to hear perfectly. Needless to say, later volumes return him to his hard-of-hearing state.
  • Jommeke: Both Baron Huppelvoet and the eldest nun of the "Begijntjes" have one.
  • Hägar the Horrible once was trying to communicate with an old Viking using one of these. The problem: The trumpet was full of letters.
  • Used for a noticeable gag in the italian comic Alan Ford: during a bank robbery, one of the ghost robbers tries to intimidate a seemingly deaf old man with an ear trumpet, who can't hear what's he's saying. Then the ghost just shoots a bullet down the trumpet, causing it to exit from the old man's other ear, much to his shock.
  • In The Beano, Eric Wimp ate an old banana and became an older version of Bananaman who used an ear trumpet to attempt to hear a cry for help.

    Films — Animation 
  • One of the White-hats in The Boxtrolls.
  • The judge at the Daltons' trial in Go West! A Lucky Luke Adventure uses one, but even with it and the jury shouting things for him at the top of their lungs he can't hear a damn thing.
  • In Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels, one of the Lilliputians uses his ear trumpet as a bugle to summon a crowd to the beach where Gulliver washed up.
  • After signing Rumpelstiltskin's contract in Shrek Forever After, Shrek goes around scaring villagers by roaring at them, but he simply whispers "roar" into an elderly woman's ear trumpet (pictured above).

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Some comic relief in the otherwise serious A Death in the Family involves Grandma Catherine, her acute deafness, and her ear trumpet which still leaves her misunderstanding words. Her son Andrew thinks it looks like a pelican's mouth and is filled with the temptation to throw in a fish.
  • Trumpkin uses an ear trumpet in The Silver Chair. This is both for comic effect (he mishears a good bit of information before he finally gets his ear trumpet) and to emphasize how old he is, and thus how much time has passed since the last trip to Narnia.
  • Surrealist novel The Hearing Trumpet.
  • Discworld: Unseen University's elderly wizard Windle Poons apparently used to have one. By Hogfather it was used to give HEX verbal commands.
  • Micromégas: Micromegas makes one to communicate with what he sees as insects:
    he briskly took out a pair of scissors with which he cut his fingernails, and from the parings of his thumbnail he improvised a kind of speaking-trumpet, like a vast funnel, and put the end up to his ear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventure Game, one of the Argonds had an ear trumpet that was completely useless; his hearing only improved when he wore his spectacles.
  • Appeared in the Dragnet TV series as Joe Friday and his partner attempt to question a hard-of-hearing witness.
  • Adam Savage parodies this during a MythBusters build — he was assembling a huge funnel, and when he finished it he held it up to one ear.
    What's that you say, sonny? I can't hear you!
    • In the Chinese Invasion Alarm myth, Kari and Adam use construction cones as these to help them hear the faint beats emanating from their sunken drum. It doesn't help "Deaf as a post" Adam, but Kari does hear the drum responding to the pickaxes digging through the rock below.
  • Several in The Benny Hill Show. In the sketch "Benny Kelly, Son Of Ned Kelly" he pours some alcohol into someone's ear horn and the fluid comes out the man's mouth.
  • Referenced by Lionel in As Time Goes By when he's having hearing problems.
  • Horrible Histories- During their special edition at the Proms, one sketch has Ludwig van Beethoven being provided a literal trumpet for this purpose by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in order to argue over which of them was the greatest composer.
  • In the Grand Finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q (manifesting as an elderly man) uses one to annoy an elderly Picard by implying he's gone senile.
    Picard: Q, what is going on here?! Where is the anomaly?
    Q: What's that? You've lost your mummy?

     Newspaper Comics 
  • In the Muppet Show strip, Kermit goes to the theater's lost-and-found and asks Pops if he's seen Zoot's missing saxophone. Pops says, "Eh?" and... well, you can probably guess what he has in his ear.

  • All the Way Home: Mary's mostly deaf mother Catherine wears one. Catherine's mishearing things and people having to shout into the ear trumpet are a running gag.

    Video Games 
  • In King's Quest V, Graham encounters an old hermit who lives on the seashore and is so hard of hearing that all he can hear is his very loud doorbell. After exploring some islands Graham finds a conch shell, which he can give to the hermit to use as a trumpet, allowing them to communicate normally.
  • There's on old man on Booty Island in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge whose job is to fire a cannon when the mail boat comes in. Probably because of being deafened by proximity to that loud cannon, he needs an ear trumpet to hear what Guybrush is saying.
  • Lord Spookyraven in Kingdom of Loathing has one, which you win by defeating him; because he dabbled in ancient unspeakable evil, wearing it in certain areas lets you learn the names of demons, which allows you to summon them for special effects. It also gives you a nice boost to your initiative.
  • The Boys of Silence in Bioshock Infinite have these built into their helmets.
  • In The Sims 2, if you take your time in Create-A-Sim, Elder Sims will sometimes take one of these out and listen for something.
  • 138-year-old wizard Windle Poons uses one in the Disc World adventure game.

  • Girl Genius: Chief Quartermaster Salma of the Incorruptible Library has an ear horn, though she remains hard of hearing even when using it.

    Western Animation 
  • Used by Beethoven in an episode of Animaniacs. Wakko tried using it as an instrument until he learned where it had been.
    Yakko: You shouldn't put stuff like that in your ear. You'll go deaf.
    Beethoven: I am deaf!
    Yakko, Wakko, and Dot: (to the audience) Too late!
    • Also used by Slappy Squirrel after Skippy told her the school counselor suggested he use a nonviolent approach to deal with a bully, when she couldn't believe what she was hearing.
  • Animaniacs (2020): In "Hindenburg Cola", the elderly shopkeeper uses one, and still has trouble hearing what the Warners want to purchase. Yakko has to shout and use the trumpet as a megaphone to get him to hear them clearly.
  • Used in a cutaway gag in an episode of Family Guy. After Stewie compares Brian to "aging supermodel Carol Alt", we cut to an old man shouting about her being mentioned on TV (and getting the name of the show wrong), and we see the trumpet sticking out of bedsheets in the other room and an old woman shouting "What?".
  • Played for laughs in Futurama when Fry travels in time and accidentally has sex with his grandmother when she was younger; upon having it spelled out for him she responds to his screams with "What was that dear?" and uses an ear horn.
  • Looney Tunes: The 1963 short "Now Hear This" had an old man finding a new ear trumpet in place of his old and worn-out one. He is overjoyed to have a new shiny trumpet, but it is, in fact, Satan's lost horn, and it has the old man's world turn into a synesthetic, nightmarish acid trip sequence.
  • Moto Perpetuo: One sight gag has a reproduction of the iconic "His Master's Voice" painting of a dog listening to a gramophone record, except that the dog has an Ear Trumpet in his ear, basically using a trumpet to listen to a trumpet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic used this in the episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" with an elderly pony who cut in front of Fluttershy at the asparagus stand.
  • Abe Simpson has used one in The Simpsons. Abe's age is a frequent point of comedy.
    • Professor Frink uses an ear trumpet as an echolocation device to find the kids in town who are running a pirate radio station giving away all the adults' secrets.
    • Mr. Burns has used an ear trumpet once or twice.
  • Gargamel uses one of these to listen to the Smurfs while waiting out in the forest to spring his Trickle Trap in The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Chief Record Smurf".
  • The Grand Grizzly from Yogi The Easter Bear uses one of these.

    Real Life 
  • In the 1920's and 1930's, as aircraft grew larger and governments began to panic over the possibility of serious aerial bombing by bomber fleets, some truly heroic ear trumpets were built in fixed turret mountings along the south coast of England. The intention was that these could be angled towards France and listeners would strain their ears for the first magnified signs that a bomber fleet was on the way. (so as to get fighter interceptors up in the air). Whilst the technology worked as well as could be expected, the listener stations diminished in importance as radar was developed and did the job much more efficiently. But in an attempt to keep the radar secret from Germany, the listening stations and their massive ear trumpets were maintained and kept staffed, with the RAF's success in intercepting German raids officially credited to them and to the Royal Observer Corps who manned them.
  • At least one was in use in The '70s (!!), showing up in this video of Ann-Margret and the Bay City Rollers playing for an audience of senior citizens. (Around 1:09.)
  • When Ludwig van Beethoven began to lose his hearing, he had some ear trumpets manufactured for him by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, but they didn't work very well and the embarrassment of having to use them in public contributed to his Sense Loss Sadness.