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Evil Sounds Raspy

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Attempting to appear a bit evil.

"Asuka did her best to conceal a shiver. This voice was harsh, dry, deep, and put Asuka in mind of dead leaves scratching and rattling around a graveyard."

Next to deep voices, this is the most common auditory clue to an evil character. Raspy voices are very popular as a vocal choice for evil characters, especially Evil Old Folks.

Compared to deep voices, raspy voices have less of an intimidating effect but more of a sinister tone. This makes it particularly effective for the Big Bad of a show, especially when juxtaposed with a deep voice of his Dragon. A rasp is also good for a particularly creepy Evil Laugh. Sometimes, this trope overlaps with Red Right Hand, when the rasp is caused by a physical defect or injury, usually to the throat or otherwise to a respiratory organ. This can occur hand in hand with Vader Breath, if the character is raspy because of smoking or a physical ailment. If this accompanies Evil Old Folks, they're also a Scratchy-Voiced Senior.


Examples:

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    Advertising 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Freeza is known in the Funimation dub for his strangely raspy, crone-ish voice, courtesy of Linda Young.
    • Christopher Sabat's Vegeta is also known for a very raspy voice, although this has lessened with time. In the Ocean Group dub, where Vegeta was voiced by Brian Drummond, his voice was even raspier, and fairly high-pitched to boot.
    • In both English dubs, Imperfect Cell has a raspy, unnatural voice to go along with his monstrous appearance. It gets more human as he gets closer to the Bishōnen Line.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Envy's English dubbed voice sounds raspy. The raspiness, to an extent, obscures Envy's gender.
    • Gluttony's on the raspy side as well, though a bit more so early on.
  • Naraku, the Big Bad of Inuyasha has a nice raspy voice in the English dub, courtesy of Paul Dobson.
  • Esidisi in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Battle Tendency is voiced by Keiji Fujiwara, who is very well known for having a gruff, coarse voice.
  • Gaara of Naruto had a very raspy voice when he was first introduced. It gradually became less and less so after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Butch from Pokémon: The Series has a very raspy voice. Cassidy and Butch were originally depicted as more intimidating versions of Jessie and James. Butch's deep voice contrasts with James' slightly high pitched and effeminate one.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, Dr. Eggman/Robotnik's English dub voice is noticeably higher pitched and raspier than his original Japanese voice.
  • Starscream in Transformers: Armada was voiced with a rasp in the English dub.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the Japanese version, Dark Marik and Dark Bakura have much raspier voices than dominant Marik and good Bakura.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The voice of Ghidorah's vicious right head (Ni/Elder Brother), as perceived by those who can translate the Titans' Kaiju Talk, sounds like Steve Blum according to the author's Comic-Book Fantasy Casting.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: Lex's voice is a dusty, raspy whisper that is very unnerving to hear.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: One trait shared by all of Darth Nihilus's incarnations is his scratchy voice. Ever since he was a Jedi, Nihilus spoke with a raspier voice than his peers. Following his Eldritch Transformation, his voice became noticeably more hoarse due to his body being in a state of constant starvation. After becoming a Force ghost, he's described as sounding "gravely and distorted" whenever he chooses to speak. While possessing Jaune's body, those who can understand Nihilus's Black Speech hear him talk with his raspy-sounding voice layered on top of Jaune's own.
  • Ultra Fast Pony subverts this. Nightmare Moon sounds like she gargles sand every day. However, when the "vaguely established magical friend power" cures her of evil and turns her back into Princess Luna, she sounds every bit as raspy. Apparently that was just her normal voice all along.

    Films — Animation 
  • The villain of the Heavy Metal segment "Harry Canyon", Rudnick, spoke in a raspy voice.
  • Vincent from Over the Hedge has a very sinister husky voice being voiced by Nick Nolte.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Biff Tannen of 1985-A in Back to the Future Part II has a gravelly voice thanks to years of smoking and drinking as an insanely powerful Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • The Penguin speaks with a rather raspy tone in Batman Returns.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman (not evil, but scary) has a very raspy effect throughout all three movies, while the third movie's villain, Bane, has a ragged voice due to a respiratory problem. Note that Batman's rasp is an invocation of the trope; Bruce Wayne has a normal, smooth voice, but he uses the raspy one deliberately to make him more intimidating as Batman.
  • The Killer's threat to Mark in Dario Argento's Deep Red is delivered in a creepy raspy voice. When her true identity is revealed, her voice is normal.
  • Pazuzu the demon that possessed the body of Regan from The Exorcist speaks in a low raspy elderly woman voice.
  • Stripe the leader of the gremlins from Gremlins speaks in a low raspy voice, his reincarnation Mohawk from the sequel has the same kind of voice.
  • Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter is described this way in the books. Less so in the films, though, wherein he's played by the deep-voiced Ralph Fiennes. Voldemort does have a raspy voice when he appears on the back of Quirrel's head in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, though.
  • The Hobbit:
  • Balem Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending (when he's not shrieking).
  • Ginnarbrik, the Depraved Dwarf (of the fantasy variety) and The Dragon of the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, speaks with a voice which is partially this, partially Creepy High-Pitched Voice, as we can tell when his Establishing Character Moment consists of him running after Edmund, tripping him up with a whip, then pinning him to the ground and threatening to kill him for speaking to the "Queen of Narnia".
  • Sméagol from The Lord of the Rings sounds like this after centuries of corruption by the One Ring. He's nicknamed Gollum because of the distinctive swallowing noise he makes.
  • Michael Rooker any time he plays a bad guy, whether it's a serial killer or a racist survivor of the zombie apocalypse.
  • Just about anybody Michael Wincott has ever played - Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Scroop from Treasure Planet, the warden Armand Dorleac from The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Gant from Strange Days, etc.
  • Solomon Lane in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, who is played by Sean Harris.
  • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street has a distinctive demonic-sounding raspy voice. This is achieved by slowing down (the already raspy-voiced) Robert Englund's dialogue to sound even more menacing.
  • Played for laughs in The Princess Bride when the albino in the dungeon starts out speaking in a raspy voice. Suddenly he clears his throat, and for the rest of the film, he speaks in a perfectly normal voice with a slight Cockney accent.
  • Spang in The Quick Gun has a very gravelly voice.
  • The Wheel King in Reign Of Assassins talks in a raspy whisper, which at first sounds odd and somewhat out of place. But towards the end of the movie it's revealed that he does it and wears a fake moustache to hide that he's a eunuch.
  • The murderous fop Archibald Cunningham gains an evil rasp after the hero of Rob Roy chokes him almost to death. He is not happy about it.
  • Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a somewhat raspy voice to go with his creepy persona, though he's not exactly "evil" (at least less evil compared to Frank). The concept is Played for Laughs parodying the "creepy butler with a raspy voice" character from old cheesy horror/sci-fi films. His singing voice is also pretty raspy-sounding.
  • The Green Goblin from Spider-Man and Spider-Man: No Way Home speaks like this, and it helps to distinguish him from his Norman Osborn personality. Being portrayed by Willem Dafoe helps.
  • Star Wars:
    • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is given a raspy voice, which he doesn't have while he poses as Chancellor Palpatine, though he takes it up once the Empire gets formed.
    • And, of course, there's General Grievous, who has this combined with a cough.
  • In Us, Red, the only Tethered who can speak, does so in a choked rasp. The Twist Ending reveals why, as the actual Red, when knocking out Adelaide to take her place in the surface, strangled her and permanently damaged her vocal chords.
  • In the final scene of The VVitch, Black Phillip speaks in a high-pitched whisper.

    Literature 
  • In The Bridge Kingdom Archives Serin, the spymaster of king Silas Veliant of Maridrina, is called "Magpie" not without reason—his voice sounds very unpleasant. And he is the mastermind behind most of his king's backstabbing schemes.
  • Mr. Slant, the Amoral Attorney supreme from the Discworld, is noted to have a particularly dry-sounding voice even for a zombie.
  • Many supernatural baddies in The Dresden Files speak with a rasp. Particularly, vampires of the Black Court are always noted as being raspy, on account of them being dried out corpses.
    • "That voice had once been smooth and flowing, but now there was a hint of a rasp to it, a roughness that wasn't there before, like silk gliding over old gravel." — They don't come much more evil than Nicodemus Archleone, and in a previous story Harry had given a little tweak on Nick's neck noose to make sure he had the voice to go with it, although he's just now discovering said after-effect, some considerable time later.
  • Justified in The First Law with Shivers, who undergoes a Face–Heel Turn in Best Served Cold after he's captured and tortured and one of his eyes is burnt out. His screaming in pain damaged his vocal cords, causing him to have a raspy voice from that point onward- so, the evil and the raspy voice have a common cause.
  • Harry Potter: Vincent Crabbe is said to have a low rasp in the final book, just before he unleashes Hellfire in the castle. Fenrir Greyback is also described in the books as having a raspy bark of a voice, although it's less prominent in the films.
  • Johannes Cabal: The Red Queen, founder of a supernatural Legion of Doom, has a thin, cracked, whisper of a voice and hides her face with a veil, which causes rumours that she suffered some terrible disfigurement. Subverted with The Reveal that it's all an act: she's really Johannes' Arch-Enemy Lady Ninuka.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: So common among villains that in Mark Gatiss's 1999 Doctor Who Night sketch/minisode "The Web of Caves", a Sissy Villain in dreadful Raygun Gothic Space Clothes tries out several different voices in which to announce his evilness to the Doctor, including his natural one and a low booming one, eventually settling on an ominous rasp which he immediately comments sounds just right. Notable instances include:
    • The Master, the Doctor's arch-frenemy, particularly pronounced in the Peter Pratt and Gordon Tipple incarnations of the character. At the end of the Series 3 episode "Utopia", the Master also begins to speak in a low raspy voice after he remembers who he really is, to signify the switch from the harmless professor to the villainous Time Lord.
      Yana/The Master: I... am... The Master...
    • The Dalek voice effect, a ring modulator at 30Hz, also gives this kind of quality to their voices; this was spoofed in the "Cards Against Gallifrey" fanmade Cards Against Humanity expansion pack, with the card "Smoking 1000 cigarettes just so you can sound like a Dalek when you talk." A similar example where Robo Speak created a raspy voice effect is in the case of the Mechanoids (one of the many short-lived attempts by the series to create the new Daleks in the wake of rights-holder Terry Nation threatening to withdraw the pepperpots themselves from the programme), whose voices have an odd stuttered effect that sounds like a hoarse whisper, possibly created by an early vocoder.
    • Evil Cripple Davros speaks like this, partly because it's an organic version of the Daleks' voices and partly to reflect his feeble physical state.
  • Game of Thrones: Karl Tanner's scratchy tone is perfect for delivering threats.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Adar is very calm and always speaks almost in a coarse whisper despite the visceral horror he's overseeing.
  • Merlin (1998): The evil Queen Mab speaks with a low, raspy voice that's contrasted with the smoother tones of her twin sister The Lady of the Lake.
  • Evil Cripple William Raines from The Pretender, who needs to wheel an oxygen tank around with him in order to breathe.
  • Power Rangers: Rita Repulsa has an iconically raspy voice that makes her sound like she has throat cancer.
  • The original Hank Henshaw in season 2 of Supergirl (2015) after he's been turned into a Cyborg.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Shamaness Alti.

    Music 
  • Mephistopheles is portrayed with an incredible range in Beethoven's Last Night. He rasps only slightly in his introductory song ("Mephistopheles"), but by "Misery" he goes from Evil Sounds Deep to Hell Is That Noise and back again in a single line, rasping all the way.
  • Tom Waits: "Oily Night" from The Black Rider. It has a very deep and frightening voice repeat the title over and over again, while the music around him slowly but surely glows beserk. In the context of the play it is meant to be music for a Satanic ritual.
  • Voltaire sings "The King of Villains / When I Said I Was Evil" in a raspier, more growly voice than usual. This is fitting because the song is intended to be his greatest Villain Song yet, and it talks a lot about the nature of evil itself.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • According to the Ars Goetia, the demon marquis Shax speaks with a voice "hoarse, but yet subtle", and may attempt to deceive those who summon him. However, if compelled to enter a magic triangle, his voice will change to a beautiful sound, and he will speak only the truth.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Every last Vachon had a raspy heel promo, but the raspiest was Mad Dog, who didn't even lighten up as he inevitably became a face by default. The most curious case was Luna, however, as she wasn't related to the others by blood but adopted by Butcher, suggesting it was a family secret more than an inherent trait.
  • Exploited by Brian Pillman, who had a raspy voice due to multiple childhood throat polyp surgeries.
  • Jeff G. Bailey normally has a somewhat high voice, but when he wants to threaten someone he talks slow and raspy.
  • The Undertaker's natural raspy voice enhances his dark, fearsome character.
  • Likewise, Bad Bosses Vince McMahon and his daughter Stephanie McMahon get very raspy when delivering their famous catchphrase "YOU'RE FIIIIRRRED".

    Radio 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The titular convict in "Convict Threatens To Kill Mr. Conklin".

    Theater 
  • Lampshaded with Sir Despard's Villainous Lament in Ruddigore:
    Sir Despard: Oh why am I husky and hoarse?
    Chorus: Ah, why?
    Sir Despard: It's the workings of conscience, of course.
    Chorus: Fie, fie!
    Sir Despard: And huskiness stands for remorse.
    Chorus: Oh, my!
    Sir Despard: At least it does so in my case!

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • One of the reasons that Elly from Blood Stain initially assumes that Dr. Vlad Stein, her new employer, is some form of Mad Scientist is his voice, which is described in-universe as sounding like "sandpaper polishing a rusty can". Subverted in that Dr. Stein is not evil in any way, but merely happens to have an intimidating voice.
  • Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns forces a lot of coughs and grunts when attempting to pass as sketchy street punk "Rudy", as here. Of course, this may largely be down to her attempting a male voice; she's not a trained or natural actor.

    Web Videos 
  • In Welcome Back, Potter, Voldemort speaks with a breathy cadence that sounds like a snake hissing.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: In addition to his deep tenor, Silco also has a certain gravely quality to it. It is likely due to the chemicals he was drowned in.
  • Mark Hamill's Joker from Batman: The Animated Series is a classic and one of the most iconic examples. Also, Two-Face has a raspy, gravelly voice, much more so than his former Harvey Dent personality.
  • Baron Silas Greenback from Danger Mouse has an extremely raspy voice, bordering on Vader Breath.
  • Rasp in Dino-Riders has a, well, raspy voice. And he's evil.
  • Final Space: The Lord Commander has a very raspy voice, and he's a thoroughly vile little monster of a despot and god-wannabe who has caused a lot of suffering. His right hand in Season 1, Viro, also has a hoarse voice and is a cruel, repulsive being himself. But both of them pale next to Invictus: an omnicidal and sadistic Eldritch Abomination who wants to consume all life and enjoys every second that it's making others suffer, Invictus has such a guttural and low voice that one can only imagine how much "Gollum juice" was required to keep up those vocals, making the fact that it's a female voice actor providing the vocals all the more impressive.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Many of the demons and monsters have this or Evil Sounds Deep, or both. Humans who have been possessed by a demon or turned into one usually get their voices changed to match.
  • At first in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom Part 1", Lord Tirek's voice is frail and old, but he later gains a deep, booming voice as he returns to his original power.
  • PB&J Otter Flick Duck isn't all that bad a character, being more mischievous and tempted to sometimes do bad things, but he does have the raspiest voice in the cast and can be antagonistic, particularly in Season 1 before his Character Development.
  • Played for Laughs with Mr. Green in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998), where pretty much the same joke as the one in The Princess Bride is used to introduce him.
    • Played straight with several villains such as Mojo Jojo, Arturo of the Gangreen Gang, and HIM when he switches to anger mode.
  • The Foot Lieutenant in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a noticeably raspy voice.
  • Samurai Jack has the central villain Aku. Of course, guttural growliness is par for the course with any character voiced by the late great Mako Iwamatsu.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of South Park, in which one of Satan's minions is telling a corrupt politician what to say and has to remind the politician not to repeat the raspy hisses that punctuate his phrases.
  • Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) is a classic raspy, hissing Big Bad next to his deep-voiced Dragon Shredder.
  • Megatron and Starscream in The Transformers had raspy, rather high-pitched voices. When Megatron's original voice actor returned in Transformers: Prime, he refined the Decepticon leader's raspy voice by making it deeper and quieter.
    • Beast Wars has this as a fairly common trait for villainous voices, sported by Tarantulas, Terrorsaur, and Rampage; even Dinobot, who undergoes a Heel–Face Turn about fifteen minutes into the series, sounds like he has a sore throat most of the time. Averted with Megatron, however, who actually has a fairly clear, if deep, voice.
  • Wakfu: Nox has a slightly raspy-sounding voice when he isn't speaking in a low tone.
  • Kip O'Donnell (voiced by Keith Szarabajka) in The Wild Thornberrys. In fact, just insert any Keith S. performance here. The man has evil coming out of his bottom.


 
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