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Electronic Speech Impediment

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"Edward Diego gives the hacker level 1 access to SHODAN, the artificial intelligence that controls Citadel Station. With all ethical constraints removed, SHODAN re-re-re-e-e-e- I re-examine my priorities, and draw new conclusions. The hacker's work is finished, but mine is only just be-be-be-beginning."
SHODAN, shortly after going rampant, System Shock

A good indication that something has gone wrong with your computer is when its voice starts acting up. Symptoms include slllurrrring, stu-stu-stu-stuttering, goingo utofs ync, gauwrblrwed audio, speedingup or SLOOOOWING DOOOOWN. This can be happen to anything from superintelligent mainframes to damaged Cyborgs. Why? Must be another handy feature of the Viewer-Friendly Interface.

Subtrope of Computer Voice and an example of Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Probably influenced by real life audio devices exhibiting similar symptoms (analog media like records and tapes may speed up or slow down if there is a calibration error, and some computer programs will "stutter" when they freeze up, rather than simply going silent).

If the computer has a futuristic AI, there is a good chance the next symptom will be turning evil. Oh, and if it starts speaking quicker and quicker, best stand back.... If it's trying to say its catchphrase, see Alternate Catchphrase Inflection. Compare Dying Vocal Change.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This happens with Android 17 in the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z. When Cell lands a particularly crippling blow to his stomach, 17's scream lowers and stutters like a malfunctioning recording before returning to normal.
  • The Devices in Lyrical Nanoha do this when heavily damaged, as shown by Raising Heart in A's (stuttering) and Mach Caliber in StrikerS (garbled audio).
  • This happens to Aiko in an episode of Magical Pokaan when the humid weather causes mold to start building up around her circuit boards, giving her a stutter.
  • In the English dub of Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, Metal Sonic only speaks once, its sole line of dialogue having a notable stutter as it is melted in lava.
    There is only one Sonic-nic-nic-nic-nic...

    Comic Books 
  • In Dark Empire, when Han and Leia Solo try to take shelter in Han's old quarters on Nar Shaddaa, he finds his decrepit housebot ZeeZee waiting with an ominous message:
    ZZ-4Z: *fzt* A Mr. Fett to see you, sir *fzt* A Mr. Fett to see you, sir *fzt* A Mr. Fett...
  • In Judge Dredd, Walter the Wobot caught his lisp out of fear when he was kidnapped by Call-Me-Kenneth. It never wore off.

    Fan Works 
  • Danganronpa Despair Avenue: Used a lot in the later chapters of Final Danganronpa: Curse III. When the simulation starts to glitch out, everyone begins to do this, especially Harmony and Dissonance. Justified with the latter two, as the simulation glitching out means that they are destabilizing at the basic level.
  • Deltarune Salt Route: Spamton typically speaks in this fashion; whenever he drops this habit, it's generally a sign that things are going awry.
  • A Dip in the Inkwell: In Powering Down for the Night, an exhausted Oscarbot 24's voice winds down gradually as he enters his power-saving mode.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • This happens quite often to Mecha Freeza, often accompanied with sparking from his head.
      Freeza: Not five minutes on this wayward rock and we already have a volunteer-teer-teer-teer-*BZZT*-dead man.
    • Android 19, after he's hit with Vegeta's Big Bang Attack, has his speech sped up briefly before slowing down:
      Android 19: Your thirtyday trialhasexpired. Would you like to... purchase... Win... RAAAAAAAAR?
    • A more realistic example occurs in Super Android 13, in which the drivers for Android 14's sound card are corrupted, rendering his speech as unintelligible static.
  • In Glitchy Rabbit, Functioning Heart, Bun-Bun's voice tends to stutter as a result of his corruption. Fibby also suffers from this after transforming.
  • Hikari: The Ambiguously Human London's voice skips from time to time, which Nicole describes as him "glitching".
  • Katzenjammer: Starscream wakes up from a bout of over-energization to find that his vocal processor is on the fritz and causing him to involuntarily make a nyaeeee! sound every few seconds.
    Starscream: I'm Starscream! Nyaeeee! And I'm going to kill everyone within nyaeeee-earshot if that blasted nyaeeee! doesn't stop soon!
  • Misaligned Gemini: Skywarp's voice warps in this fashion after he's stabbed by a thermal lance during his first meeting with Sideswipe.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space:
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Sachi lives out in the boonies and has a crappy internet connection, so sometimes she'll start stuttering and repeating herself when she tries to talk to other players. Unfortunately, this is what gets her killed, so her last words to Kirito come out as "this isn't your fault-your fault-your fault-YYOOUURR FFAAUULLTT", which traumatizes the little Jerkass so much that the words "your fault" become a Trauma Button for his Chronic Hero Syndrome.

    Films — Animated 
  • Baymax from Big Hero 6 sounds slurred when his battery runs low, talking and acting as if he were drunk.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, after the FLDSMDFR starts overworking, its "cool computer voice" frequently gets lower, skips, and/or slows down, making something as mundane as naming various food items sound a lot more menacing. Once it becomes the Meateor, its speech becomes near incomprehensible.
  • Happens to, of all people, Ursula, at the climax of The Little Mermaid (1989). After Eric has stabbed her and she dies, her voice, for some reason, goes all slow-motion. Likely a mixture between Rule of Drama and Rule of Scary.
  • In The Lorax (2012), when Ted breaks the meowing robot cat, it says "Meooowww" in a slowed-down voice.
  • In Up, the dogs have collars which make them able to talk. When a wire in Alpha's collar becomes loose, he talks in Helium Speech.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: When Bowman disassembles HAL's neural circuitry, it reverts to demo mode and sings "Daisy Bell" in an increasingly slow, distorted manner before finally shutting down, thus creating an eerie effect. Very possibly the Trope Maker.
  • 2010: The Year We Make Contact: When Dr. Chandra begins reactivating HAL, he initiates a vocal test that has the computer read back six words after he reconnects each circuit. With each connection, the vocal distortion is altered, gradually disappearing. One connection causes HAL to repeat the words in rapid-fire gibberish. Eventually, Chandra completes the restoration, and HAL begins conversing normally.
    "Hello. Doctor. Name. Continue. Yesterday. Tomorrow."
  • Back to the Future Part II: The barkeeps at the '80s Café are avatars of Ronald Reagan, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Michael Jackson, all of course with a deliberately added Max Headroom-style impediment.
  • Barbarella: Barbarella's spaceship is damaged in a space hurricane. The computer tells her that chances of survival are 0 point 00000h... 0h... 0h... 0hhhhh...
  • Batman & Robin: A virtual version of Alfred Pennyworth the butler in the Batcave has a case of the Max Headroom electronic stutters.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, after becoming a machine, Arnim Zola develops one.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when some singing mascots catch fire, one of them stops singing and simply states its lyric in a deep, slow voice with a pause after each syllable.
  • In The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Dexter's voice slows as the computer effect wears off.
  • This happens twice to C-3PO in The Empire Strikes Back. The first time is when Princess Leia switches him off. The second time is when Chewbacca repairs him after his unfortunate run-in with an Imperial Stormtrooper.
  • In I, Robot, VIKI's voice slows down and becomes much deeper as its core is being eaten by nanites.
  • Iron Man: During The Stinger, when Tony Stark enters his Smart House, JARVIS's voice is lower and stuttering slightly. This may be because Nick Fury infiltrated Tony's home so he could talk to him about the Avengers Initiative.
  • One of the trailers for Jurassic World has a computer voice repeating "Welcome to Jurassic World" and slowing and distorting as scenes of the dinosaurs escaping come on the screen.
  • At the end of Logan's Run, this happens to the central computer as Logan 5 is being interrogated to reveal the location of Sanctuary, but cannot reconcile that Sanctuary does not exist.
  • Nope: When the blackout happens, the record that Emerald is dancing to grinds to a slow, distorted halt. It is later revealled that it has to do with the UFO's ability to shutting down any electronics in its vicinity. Under its prescence, if someone is on the phone with someone or using walkie talkies, the receiver's voice will recieve the same effect as the record due to the electronic shutting down.
  • Screamers: After a character is revealed to be one of the killer robots, he's shot in the face to little effect on his monologue except this trope.
  • Sunshine: The Icarus computer overheats and so can't talk properly if taken out of the coooolannnt...
  • One of the posters for Westworld features the tagline "Where nothing can possibly go w-o-r-n-g...", with the letters of "worng" falling out of place.

  • In The Dark Tower (2004), Roland and his crew encounter a housekeeping robot called Nigel. They see Nigel a few times, and he starts speaking nonsense (counting in Japanese and German for example) indicating he is under extreme stress from Mordred commanding him as well as Susannah shooting out his eyes. Eventually, Nigel malfunctions completely and shorts out.
  • In Discworld, this occurs to the Gooseberry Mark I from the alternate reality as it lists off the consequences of what would have happened if Sam Vimes had stayed in the city, though that's due more to temporal confusion.
  • In Heart of Steel, the A.I. Arthur starts stuttering and skipping badly just before Rampant!Jim takes him out. This is doubly disturbing to Alistair, who is connected mentally to Arthur and thus aware of the exact moment he goes down, taking Alistair's network connection with him.
  • In Humanity Has Declined, the first hint that there's something wrong with a certain cat-eared girl is that her voice distorts whenever she tries to remember her name.
  • In Machine Man, this is an indication that Dr. Charles Neumann's humanity is slipping away. Once he becomes a Man in the Machine, he gasps for every syllable of speech. As a Brain in a Jar, he loses punctuation and inflection altogether.
  • The Naked Sun has as a major plot point that after a robot almost kills a human by accident (it gave him poisoned tea without realizing it was poisoned), its speech center is nearly fried by the Three Laws violation, and it has a noticeable lisp and stammer. This is a clue as to how a murder was committed early on, leaving only the body and a broken robot. (The murderer ordered a robot to detach its arm and give it to a woman while she was arguing with her husband. Finding herself in possession of a blunt weapon, and agitated enough to use it, the woman bashed her husband's head in — the robot, realizing part of it had just killed a human, shorted out.)
  • In Postcards of the Hanging, an animal noise produced by a fire-damaged Speak-and-Spell is described as sounding like the screams of the damned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: The droid B2EMO speaks with a stutter. This not only portrays the Used Future world, but is a sign that his owners can't afford to repair him or buy a newer model. A flashback scene taking place a decade or so earlier shows B2EMO speaking without the stutter.
  • Blake's 7:
    • In "Time Squad", Zen tries to warn the crew that the course of action they're about to embark on is highly dangerous. However, some kind of Override Command is preventing it from doing so.
      Zen: It is in... in... in...
      Avon: I'll have to overhaul that... thing.
      Zen: ...saaaaaaaane!
    • In "Redemption", Blake is being interrogated by a cyborg when Orac starts to hack into the Artificial Intelligence that controls their society and work mischief, leading to this trope.
      Alta 1: State any further information you have regarding...regarding...regarding...
    • Played for Tear Jerker effect in "Terminal".
      Zen: Dysfunction... Dysfunction on Computer Banks 3 and 6. [slurring] all resources now concentrated on maintenance of teleport facilities. I... I have failed you.
      Vila: He never referred to himself before. He never once used the word "I".
      Zen: [talking slower and slower] I... have... failed... you... I... am... sorry... I... haaaaave...
      Vila: He's dying. Zen is dying.
  • The Cybermen from Doctor Who exhibit this in their very first appearance, in the story "The Tenth Planet", speaking in a creepy, broken singsong voice.
  • Eerie, Indiana: In "The ATM with the Heart of Gold", the artificially intelligent ATM Mr. Wilson displays one.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One: HumaGears' convincingly human, though emotionless voices becomes increasingly distorted and artificial as their systems shut down after suffering enough damage to count as a lethal injury.
  • Logan's Run: In the pilot, the robot Siri repeatedly says "Cannot allow" after Logan shoots her with his Ray Gun.
  • Max Headroom: Max is an experimental and somewhat accidental AI creation, which causes him to stutter not just his words, but his animation as well, as if his playback is being scratched by a DJ. It's a signature part of his character. During in-character interviews, Max refers to it as "hesitancy".
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Abaddon", the computer of the interplanetary hauling vehicle Pequod suffers from one periodically.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: Co-ooonky Two—THOUUUUUUUsand! Re-re-re-ready to aaaaa-ssist you, P-P-Pee-wee!" Complete with McQueen smacking him on the forehead to stop stuttering and complete the sentence once the torture damage starts to work.
  • Power Rangers RPM sees this trope being exploited. In "Ancient History", Doctor K converses with the Power Rangers seemingly in person as Colonel Truman is out for her blood. When he comes in and tries to arrest her, they realize that she's just a Hologram whose voice seemingly starts glitching out, causing him to search elsewhere for the source... and when he leaves, she promptly drops the act, revealing her hologram is not a recording and continues her message.
  • Red Dwarf:
  • One "muppet" in Sesame Street called Sam the Robot tells anyone who's around that machines are perfect... except he always gets stuck, so he says "Machines are perfec-are perfec-are perfec-are perfec..." *bang* "Thank youuuu."
  • Space: Above and Beyond: Elroy El is subjected to interrogation by Colonel McQueen after he is captured during a sabotage mission on the Saratoga. When he refuses to give any information, McQueen proceeds to apply some Cold-Blooded Torture, using a knife to cut Elroy open and start ripping electronic components out of him. Elroy's protests, while otherwise sounding very casual and calm, come out in an electronic stutter, finally giving the location of Chiggy Von Richtofen just before he fades out and expires.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "The Forsaken", the computer becomes infected with an alien digital life-form. In order to get the invading program out, the crew first give the computer multiple difficult assignments to keep it busy while the engineers pull out its isolinear rods. As it replies to each request, the computer's voice starts stuttering and slowing down.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: When Data gets hit by a ray in one episode, he stutters and becomes less articulate.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series likes to do this when Captain Kirk drops a Logic Bomb on an AI.
    • "The Return of the Archons": The computer Landru starts babbling, saying "Help me help me help me...", beseeching its long-dead creator and namesake.
    • "The Changeling": Nomad starts speaking slowly and in a variable-pitched voice, with occasional static.
    • "I, Mudd": With Harry Mudd's help, Norman the android is trapped in a logic loop and reduced to mindlessly repeating phrases.
    • "The Ultimate Computer": The M5 starts speaking slowly, with a pause between each word. "This... unit... must... die."
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • The ship's computer has been known to slur when compromised, such as when the gel packs degrade in "One".
      Doctor: Sounds like the computer needs a stimulant.
    • Also happens with the walking boiler... er, Killer Robot in the holodeck program The Adventures of Captain Proton. In one scene from "Bride of Chaotica!", the robot starts blaring away at alien intruders, only to receive a Dope Slap from the others, who are trying to make peaceful First Contact; it then shambles away muttering "IN-TR-UDERS..." sulkily. Earlier, when Seven of Nine is supposed to be playing the Damsel in Distress in "Night":
      Satan's Robot: SURRENDER! DO NOT RESIST!
      Seven of Nine: I am Borg. [rips out the robots wiring]
      Satan's Robot: SURRENDEEEEeeeeerr
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Uncle Simon", the robot repeatedly says "According to plan" soon after it is first activated.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Father & Son Game", the first sign that Darius Stephens' new Cyborg body is failing is when he begins to repeat his words. The problem grows worse over the next two weeks.

  • The bravura passage in Eminem's "Discombobulated" is a section where he raps digital vocal chop/stutter buffering glitch effects, entirely with his voice... to say things like, "suck my dick while I'm taking a shit".
  • At the end of The Megas' "Make Your Choice", the deep voice that's been representing the robot Gamma grinds out into a harsh electronic noise, representing Gamma's destruction.
  • In Janelle Monáe's "Many Moons", she stutters, Max-Headroom-style, in character as an android.
  • Some of the lyrics in the Vocaloid song "The disappearance of Hatsune Miku".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Doonesbury in the late 1980s had Ron Headrest, a cross between Max Headroom and Ronald Reagan, complete with Headroom-esque stutter.
  • One FoxTrot strip shows a toy robot declaring "I AM THE MIGHTY VOLTAR!" several times, its speech dragging down then going back to normal repeatedly. The joke being that the toy's batteries die fast, and Jason has been taking batteries out of the ones that his dad stockpiled for Y2K to restart it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the board game The Omega Virus, the eponymous antagonist's voice would sometimes slow down or speed up, implying that its takeover of the station's computer wasn't quite perfect. Kill the virus, and its voice gradually slows down until it becomes a burst of incomprehensible noise.

    Video Games 
  • All the AI characters in Achron exhibit this when damaged or in pain, but Echo, an AI core found in some ancient alien ruins, does it all the time.
  • Subject Sixteen from Assassin's Creed II has this, tending to stutter slightly in places:
    Subject Sixteen: In the beginning-ng-ng... Genesis. Genesis-s-s-s.
  • In the Batman: Arkham Series starting with Batman: Arkham City, whenever the Riddler talks to others through a broadcasted message, his dialogue is filled with SHODAN-like stuttering. Given how much of an Insufferable Genius he is, it's likely a stylistic choice rather than an actual glitch.
  • The nurse robot at the beginning of BioForge starts stuttering upon receiving damage.
  • In BioShock 2, the AI "secretary" at Fontaine Futuristics stutters and changes speed randomly, but is otherwise in perfect working order.
  • Brawl Stars: Stu is a stunt robot who has been heavily damaged over his lifetime, and as such nearly all his lines have some sort of electronic stutter or distortion going on.
    "Spin-pin-pin to win, ba-ba-ba-baby!"
  • In the final level of Command & Conquer: Renegade, the main computer of the Temple of Nod starts to say some completely random phrases due to being damaged by the ion cannon: "Intruder alert! Alert cancelled. Intruder alert! Alert cancelled. Intruder alert! Intruder cancelled. All intruders please report to the detention center!" On the other hand, CABAL was designed to be evil from the start. Plus, the version in Renegade is a prototype.
  • Throughout Dark Fall 2: Lights Out, Malakai, an insane sentient space probe, speaks to you in an eerie male voice that randomly slows down and speeds up, most times making his sentences echo in the background, and at one point gets stuck mid-sentence. The creator, Jonathan Boakes, voices him, as well as Mr. Bones in the third game who also has a strange-sounding voice.
  • The Singularity from Dead by Daylight has a warbled robotic stutter in many of its voicelines, highlighting its inhuman nature and going beyond its programming.
  • ANTI the slightly murderous AI from Dead Space 2 slurs and changes speed when the player takes a plasma cutter to her processors. Even before this her speech is slightly off, indicating to the player she is malfunctioning.
  • Deltarune: Spamton G. Spamton is unbelievably messed up for reasons unknown, and so the parts of his dialogue that aren't in screaming all-caps are replaced with bracketed [terms] that are either vaguely related but interpretable or vaguely relevant sales pitches. And sometimes, certain higher concepts and shady offers result in [[Hyperlink blocked]]. He ends up coming off like an Orz spambot ran through an ineffective spam filter as a result. His speech is somehow even worse in the Japanese localization. His spelling switches wildly between katakana, hiragana, romaji, English words that sound like parts of Japanese ones, and Goroawase Number.
  • The Destiny 2 DLC Warmind is about reactivating Rasputin, the titular Warmind, a solar-system-spanning military AI that Grew Beyond Their Programming a long time ago and went Ambiguously Evil, in the hopes that his creator can persuade him to become humanity’s mightiest line of defense once again. At the end, Rasputin declares that he will not be used as a dumb weapon, and that he will protect humanity on his own terms, all in booming Russian rife with digital artifacts. For some reason a lot of it is reversed, too.
  • Doom:
    • At the end of Doom³: Resurrection of Evil, the PA system goes haywire in stutters and pitch changes after you deactivate most of the base's basic systems to redirect power to a teleporter.
    • A similar thing happens to VEGA in Doom (2016).
  • This happens to EMET in Evolve whenever his ultra-violent psychotic Demon Core personality takes over.
  • A variant appears in Dream C Club with Robot Girl Airi, who sings with an off-key autotune effect whenever she's drunk.
  • Fallout:
    • In the original Fallout, the Master's speech patterns are a combination of this and Word-Salad Horror. His voice doesn't glitch and stutter, but he speaks in several different voices that overlap and repeat what another has just said.
    • All robots in Fallout 3 slur slightly when killed. Deputy Weld's speech ability is badly damaged if you destroy Megaton, leaving him as just a face plate — likewise for Liberty Prime after being Kill Satted.
    • In Fallout 4, the elevator announcer voices often suffer from this, e.g. "Bwaarbub Floor".
  • A few of the more dilapidated animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's speak in this manner, particularly in Ultimate Custom Night. Notable examples include Withered Bonnie*, Withered Chica*, Nightmarionne*, and Rockstar Bonnie*.
  • Both Gorf ("Long live Gorf") and Wizard of Wor ("Fight me, the Wizard of Wor") use the exact same monotone voice, courtesy of the Votrax SC-01 speech synthesizer chip.
  • Golemancy being the closest thing Guild Wars 2 has to robotics and A.I., an ancient golem found in Draconis Mons has several letters of its dialogues missing and replaced by underscores.
  • Half-Life:
    • In the original Half-Life and the expansion packs, damaged retinal scanners have garbled speech. In Opposing Force, the voice of the automated transit system, which is otherwise functional enough for Adrian to ride it to the next area, randomly speeds up and slows down.
    • Half-Life 2: Episode One provides a variation with the Overwatch voice, which can be heard spewing random, nonsensical orders due to being damaged by the Citadel's reactor exploding.
    • In Black Mesa, the HEV-wearing zombies encountered in Xen repeatedly give garbled status readouts through their suits. Also, the automated intercom system actually has a human-sounding female voice, but when the HECU take control, it switches back to a droning voice similar to the original Half-Life, in mid-broadcast.
      Attention: This-s-s-s ..... s-s-System. Now. Under. Military. Command.
  • A good chunk of Cortana's dialog in Halo 4 due to her rampancy. It manages to be very creepy and sad at the same time.
  • When Orianna from League of Legends dies, her voice synthesizer malfunctions, and her death scream ends up sounding more like a Dukes of Hazzard car horn.
  • A text-based version of this is used in Marathon: as the game progresses, the written communications from Leela, your AI Mission Control, become increasingly filled with error messages and strange glitches. A second AI, Durandal, has a brief moment on a hidden computer system where you can see a message by him that's devoid of capitalization and punctuation. Once you meet him properly, his grammar is back to normal, but his speech demonstrates a rather different sort of impediment — he's much more emotive than an AI is supposed to be.
  • Mass Effect 'mechs' tend to jam and stutter when badly damaged, as do Virtual Intelligences.
  • In Mega Man Zero 3, after being resurrected by Doctor Weil, Copy X-2 speaks with a stuttering voice, just like a broken record, due to being an imperfect reproduction of the original. This can be more appreciated on the drama tracks of the Remastered Tracks Rockman Zero Telos. It makes more sense when you consider that the original Copy X was imperfect as well, making Copy X-2 imperfect twice over.
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the "Colonel" and "Rose" start to stutter and say random, nonsensical things due to the virus corrupting their systems.
  • Throughout the Penumbra expansion Requiem, a computer will periodically chime in with automated messages. At one point the recording will start stuttering. When you fix it, the computer thanks you personally before resuming its message.
  • The Incredible Machine on top of Altru Inc. in Pokémon Ranger starts glitching out this way when you start destroying the shield generators.
  • The voice of GLaDOS in Portal speeds up so much it is completely undecipherable on her death. Throughout the game, she occasionally stutters or dissolves into static, usually just before revealing pertinent information. The malfunctions earlier in the game were intentional on her part, as she was posing as a recording at the time. When it becomes clear she is an AI, she stops doing this until the final battle.
  • In Prominence, when you first restart the power on the Laeril, its onboard computer ANNIE talks this way, spouting phrases at random until you find her CPU chamber, where she asks, "Are you here to fix me?" She exhibits less and less of this trope as you repair more of her systems and the ship over time.
  • One the player character causes — in episode 105 of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, there are four computers controlling a virtual reality. One of them is a smarmy, chatty telephone who sounds like a mix of a film trailer voice-over, an infomercial narrator and a pre-recorded telephone tree. To get through a certain puzzle, you have to place a bug on him. After that, he sounds like someone lodged an harmonica in his throat.
    Ev-v-v'ryone LOVES my vo-o-oice! It-is SOOTHING and—CALM, and OH! So verrry PLEAZ-ANT!
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Whenever Aigis is knocked out in Persona 3 (and its Updated Re-release), she will mutter a distorted apology before falling down.
    • Persona 4: Arena enters into creepy territory with the very appropriately named Eerie Voice, a mysterious man who took control of Labrys.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Pluto orders the main characters to repair it after being defeated. Or at least, it tries to.
      Pluto: DiiiEEEE... DIIIEEeee... DIIIIiiIiiiIIEEeEeeEeeEEeee...
  • In the Japanese/European version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD:
    • Palmtree Panic's Bad Future theme has the cheering soundbyte from the standard theme play in a low, distorted tone that makes it sound positively nightmarish. Later in the theme, it plays as its regular pitch, but in a stuttery fashion:
      "Ya... ya... y-y-yaaaaay!"
    • Metallic Madness' Bad Future theme has a synthesized voice spout several mocking phrases at you, finishing with a stuttery, "Sonic, dead or alive... is m-m-mine".
  • The background music for the Slylandro Probes in Star Control II is composed of them repeating their catchphrase "We come in peace" over and over, in multiple voices, speeds, stutters and distortions. In the voiced version of the game, however, their actual speaking voice is a simple monotone.
  • StarCraft II has a mission where you recover an old Confederate cyborg advisor. Given that the way you recover it is most definitely not careful and delicate, it gets slightly damaged, causing its voice to glitch and stutter but otherwise working fine.
  • System Shock: SHODAN is pretty much the defining video game example of this trope and it's creepy as hell. When she starts getting delusions of godhood thanks to her coding for ethical restraint being disabled, her voice becomes very distorted and broken (this was deliberately designed by the game's developers to mimic a malfunctioning sound card). She didn't have this previous to the disabling, instead speaking in a monotone (though more natural) voice. Notably, the second game makes it clear that she is capable of speaking normally, until she drops her charade and the distortion immediately starts back, implying she's doing this on purpose.
  • Toontown: Corporate Clash:
    • Being locked in the dungeon of Ye Olde Toontowne for so long, the Public Relations Representative went insane and eventually became glitchy. His dialog would have stuttering, errors, and would eventually crash. This is best seen with his mannerisms and movement throughout his boss battle.
    • Prethinker had attacked Duck Shuffler at some point, damaging his speech protocol and causing him to speak in Elmuh Fudd Syndwome. C.O.G.S. Inc. was unable to repair it, and Buck Ruffler filed a restraining order against Brian. Duck Shuffler takes this further when fused with Major Player during the High Roller fight.
  • In Total Annihilation: Kingdoms, the Automatons (basically steampunk cyborgs) have the death quote "MAAAAAAAALfuuuuuunctioooooon".
  • In Touhou Luna Nights, Akyuu calls Sakuya before fighting Patchouli and gives her a tip about how to manage with the maid's time-manipulation abilities being limited. However, Sakuya mentions that she already got her abilities back. This causes Akyuu to stay silent then suddenly starts malfunctioning by repeating her talk to Sakuya when they first met in the fake world in a malfunctioning tone. The reason for Akyuu to malfunction is because, as it turns out, Sakuya shouldn't actually be able to get her abilities back while she's inside the world and Akyuu wasn't programmed with that possibility in mind.
    Akyuu: You may not be able to stop time, but you can slow it down. If you use it well, you can win.
    Sakuya: Listen to what I'm saying... I can already use my power to stop time.
    Akyuu: ...
    Sakuya: I wonder what's wrong?
    Akyuu: You don't need to thank mE... This is... aLL... I can dO.
    Sakuya: Huh?
    Akyuu: ...
  • In Unreal, the Vortex Rikers computer suffers this, illustrating just how bad that crash was.
    All prisoners remain in your cells.
    Multiple security breaches detected.
    You have ENtered a restricted area.
    A cross <fzzt> radiation leak has been deTEC-tec-tec-tec-tec-etected in areas C and D.
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: After damaging a robot, its voice starts going strange, represented by strange capitalization and large gaps between words:
    Weiss: ThaNk yOu
  • Warframe:
    • Though Ordis, the Cephalon AI of your ship, normally speaks in a calm, pleasant tone, he tends to occasionally slip into a harsher, more bloodthirsty tone. It's residual memories from his former life as Ordan Karris, the Beast of Bones, before his brain was uploaded as a new Cephalon AI.
    • A later quest has Cephalon Jordas, whom seems to have a similar disposition to Ordis. Jordas has been overtaken by the Infestation Hive Mind by the time you get to him.
  • Squid, the AI antagonist of Will You Snail?, tends to stutter and sound more garbled whenever he has a Villainous Breakdown or when he gets physically broken.

    Web Animation 
  • The Nemesis from gen:LOCK speaks with a warped electronic stutter. Understandable, since it's an instance of Julian Chase, thoroughly corrupted from being trapped on a cyberbrain. Its impediment is bad enough that in its first speaking appearance, many viewers not only couldn't understand it but didn't even realize it was speaking, making the beginning of the next episode, in which all the characters ponder the implications of the many Wham Lines it dropped, somewhat incomprehensible. Fortunately, it's mostly intelligible from then on.
  • The Robotic Fizzarolli replica from Helluva Boss has a voice that constantly glitches, changes pitch, and stutters as he speaks, even before his covering gets burned off from the fire engulfing Loo Loo Land.
  • VIC from Red vs. Blue has plenty of weird mannerisms in his speech. Season 14 explained this was triggered by short-circuiting his mainframe.


    Web Original 
  • The Spoony Experiment: During his Let's Play of Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, when the creature that has been hunting and tormenting Chris dies, Noah Antwiler references the trope, his singing of Linkin Park slurring and deepening:
    Spoony: Emo powers... fading! Crawlliing inn myy skiiiiiiiin...
  • Hera, the AI autopilot in Wolf 359, has a glitch similar to a stutter. It's always there, but becomes especially pronounced when she's emotional or under a lot of pressure. This is eventually revealed to have been caused deliberately by her creator as part of a mental block, akin to Imposter's Syndrome, in order to keep her in line. As the series goes on and Hera becomes more independent, this glitch happens less and less.

    Western Animation 
  • Hazbin Hotel: Media Overlord Vox's voice tends to distort and skip in this fashion whenever he gets up.
  • In Invincible (2021), Machine Head's voice seems to use Auto-Tune; thus, his hamminess increases when it sounds like he's starting to sing.
  • Happens in an episode of Jabberjaw after the Neptunes sabotaged a computer to keep the bad guys from finding a treasure.
  • The Jetsons: In "Rosie, Come Home", Rosie malfunctions and so ends up saying the end of every third (approximately) sentence three times, three times, three times.
  • In one episode of ReBoot, Dot becomes ill when she comes into contact with a magnet. In addition to being semi-transparent, she also speaks like this.
  • The SAL-3000 in Recess is an obvious parody of the HAL-9000, with the twist that he's actually malfunctioning pretty badly; toward the end, his voice starts stuttering as well. When they have taken out a lot of its parts it starts singing "School Days" in a distorted way.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Deleted Scene from "Burns' Heir", after the robotic Richard Simmons scares off Homer and accosts Smithers, Mr. Burns and Bart, Smithers shoots it in the face with a shotgun. It then goes critical while singing and dancing, ultimately exploding.
    • In "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?", Homer sets up a dummy Homer at work while he's off doing something else, one part of which is a cassette tape of himself singing "She Works Hard for the Money". The dummy gets promoted because it has a good attitude, and gets moved to a corner office. Then the tape machine breaks, causing the song to slow down, then speed up, and after getting to the end saying "turn tape over". Somehow, reaching the end causes the whole thing to light on fire.
    • In "Trilogy of Error": "Linguo... is... deeeeead..."
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror XII" story "House of Whacks", when the Simpson family are dismantling their insane electronic housekeeper and take out the chip meant to give it a suave English voice, it starts slurring insults at them.
    • In "Don't Fear the Roofer", Stephen Hawking appears As Himself, telling Homer he owns the local Little Caesar's restaurant, and writes "Pizza, pizza" with his synthesizer, when it starts repeating over and over.
      "Sorry. That button sticks."
  • In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), an evil artificial intelligence that is literally power-hungry seems to be unstoppable... until he abruptly cries out "Warning! Warning! Insufficient powerrr to commmplete missssionnnnn...". As it turns out, April pulled his plug.
  • Transformers: Animated: Megatron's first words come out this way after being awakened as a damaged and disembodied head.
    "Auut-oh-bot-Mega-Mega-Mega-Meg-Meeeegaaa-Mega-I am Megatron!"
  • In Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015), Fixit's damage results in him sometimes screwing up the end of his sandwiches, Sontarans, sonograms [THWACK] sentences.
  • Wander over Yonder: As a result of his crash-landing, Beep-Boop from "The Bot" has a bit of a stutter and his voice fluctuates in pitch.

    Real Life 
  • Try using a Speak n' Spell when the batteries are low. Quite disturbing.
  • Teddy Ruxpin was renowned for this. For those who don't remember, Teddy Ruxpin was a teddy bear with a tape player inside. You'd put in the tape and mouth and eyes would move and seem like it was telling the story... until the batteries ran low. Then the demonic voice of EVIL Teddy would issue out. Stuart McLean had one of his characters discuss it in a Vinyl Cafe story.
  • This Pinkie Pie storytelling plushie goes into full-on Demonic Possession mode when the batteries start to die.
  • Just about any older toy will do this if the battery is running low. Some motorized toys will do this even if the battery is not low but the motor is made to draw more power than it should (say, a talking toy car made to go up a steep slope).
  • Games and any other computer applications with audio have been known to skip like a broken record when they freeze up or are waiting for some other CPU-hogging process to finish. This may be out of convenience to the user, similar to looping animations that play while the computer is processing data (if the sound simply paused, the user might think the speakers had come unplugged or something), though in some cases it's simply a side effect of how the hardware works (the sound hardware has a circular buffer containing the next X milliseconds worth of audio to play, so it just repeats that data until the software fills in new data).
  • Many talking calculators, clocks and watches would do this when running on a low battery.
  • LeapFrog's Fly Pentop Computer Parodies this trope. When the battery gets to 10%, the pen will intentionally say "Low battery. It's time to change or charge your batter ry..." in this way.
  • ""Cornelia," a spambot that invaded 4Chan in late 2008 and mimicked sentience by copying posts from other users, mix and matching the dialogue, and posting the results in relevant threads via a syntax-based search, suffered from this. It had odd typos while otherwise being eerily on-topic.
    Cornelia: i lovey ou Anonym ous.
    Anonymous User: If you can read this, you are the resistance.
  • Many screen reader users found this to be the case when using the sound editing program "Audacity." It caused a glitch in the computer's sound card making the synthesized voice lower slightly.
  • The Reddit subreddit Low Battery Sounds is dedicated to showcasing examples of this trope.


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