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Hair-Trigger Avalanche

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"One yodel out of place would attract, not the jolly echo of a lonely goatherd, but fifty tons of express-delivery snow."

Someone in the mountains triggers an avalanche by shouting or making another loud noise (shooting a gun, detonating an explosion, sneezing), especially if other characters have warned him about this before.

Note that, contrary to popular myth, this does not happen in Real Life — the pressure caused by even very loud sounds is far too small to cause an avalanche.note 

Subtrope of The Last Straw.


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  • Happy Heroes: In Season 3 episode 12, Big M. hits Little M. while they are on a snowy mountain. The impact is somehow enough to make the explosive barrels they've set up to blow up, causing an avalanche.
  • KikoRiki:
    • In the episode "Great News", as Krash, Chiko and Wally climb up the mountain, the former two talk to each other about the dangerous adventure. Krash is very excited about it, but Chiko snaps and yells at his friend that not everyone likes it as much as Krash does, triggering one.
    • In "Add Snow, Subtract a Fir Tree", Krash and Chiko decide to find a big Christmas Tree on the mountains, with its size compensating for a surprising lack of snow elsewhere. When Krash finds one and tries to chop it off with an axe, he accidentally triggers a huge avalanche, which floods the valley and finally brings a lot of snow to it, but leaves Krash with a small fir tree.
    • "No Mercy" from New Adventures spin-off: After Krash's attempt to surprise his friends with beautiful fireworks goes awry and causes a destruction, thinking that his friends won't forgive him for this, he and Chiko decide to escape. He realizes that he forgot his toy railroad at home and cries out in grief so loudly, he triggers an avalanche that floods him and Chiko.
  • Played with in the winter episode of Nu, Pogodi!. After Wolf is foiled by Hare once again, he bellows, "HAAAAAAAAAAREE!!!" at the top of his lungs. Echoes rock the mountaintops... then about a handful of snow falls onto Wolf's head. Intimidated, he says it again in a normal tone. There's an ominous rumble, and he's covered by some more snow. He shrugs it off and whispers, "Hare!". Naturally, this triggers a full-scale avalanche.
  • In episode 5 of Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Sports are Fun, Wolffy screams through a megaphone and ends up causing snow to fall, later causing an avalanche.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed: The fifteenth movie has Conan start one of these intentionally to stop the flood from a burst dam.

    Comic Books 
  • Hunter's Hellcats:
    • In Our Fighting Forces #110, a Trigger-Happy Nazi general brings an avalanche down on his head when he sees Hunter about to escape through the far end of a snow covered valley and draws his Luger and fires: forgetting that the reason why they hadn't shot earlier was that the snow above them was unstable.
    • In Our Fighting Forces #117, the Hellcats trigger an avalanche by firing their machine guns into a ledge of snow above a group of Nazi Super Soldiers.
  • In the first Kaamelott comic book, L'Armée du Nécromant, the knights are caught in an avalanche while fighting a horde of zombies in the mountains. At first, they think it was from Merlin casting a spell, but in fact, it was because Karadoc and Perceval were yelling while charging into the fray.
  • One issue of Thorgal starts with someone blowing a horn in the mountains, with the protagonist commenting on how irresponsible it is. The whole issue is a Timey-Wimey Ball and culminates with a Girl of the Week taking The Slow Path to cause the avalanche on purpose, killing the time traveler and saving Thorgal's life but putting him out of the loop in the process.
  • X-23: Target X: After being cornered by Kimura during her escape from the Facility bunker, Laura grabs a gun from Kimura's belt. Kimura mocks her by reminding her that she's indestructible. Laura simply responds, "I know," before aiming off to the side and firing to trigger an avalanche.

    Comic Strips 
  • A small-scale version in Big Nate has snow falling off the roof onto a shouting Ellen, who was trying to avoid a Snowball Fight.
  • Implied in a Dilbert strip where the Pointy-Haired Boss is on vacation. Wally calls the ski resort the Boss is visiting and asks if there are frequent avalanches. When he gets the affirmative, he asks the guy on the other end of the phone to tell the boss he said (in an angry tone) "HI!!!"
  • The Far Side: A cartoon has a skier come across a guy with a big drum and one with a trumpet in a narrow crevice.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin's grumbling stomach causes one of these in chapter 3 of Calvin and Hobbes Get XTREME!.
  • In Living The Dream Lance triggers one at the end of the chapter "Getting the News" after he yelled after he learned his baby was being born. The next chapter "Stallion VS Wild" shows Lance and Peter trying to survive said avalanche.
  • Vow of Nudity: Haara is saved from a posse of harpies when their siren song causes a rockslide.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tom Friend in The Abominable Snowman causes an avalanche by firing his handgun into the air repeatedly, though he's too busy having a Villainous Breakdown to notice at first.
  • Avalanche: Set up all movie that it won't take much to set off an avalanche. In this case it's a plane crash.
  • Black Widow: The prison where Alexei has been held is surrounded by snowy cliffs, but it's never been a problem for them despite having assault rifles and heavy machine guns at their disposal... until Yelena brings a rocket launcher.
  • Careful (1992): One of Guy Maddin's first feature films is about a small mountain town where every citizen must move and speak very quietly to avoid this. So naturally, Maddin produced it as a silent film.
  • The Devil's Messenger: In "The Photograph", the scream of the woman Donald rapes and murders is shown triggering an avalanche.note 
  • Everest: As the climbers are trying to get across a large ice crevasse, a mass of snow suddenly comes down a cliff without warning, nearly knocking one of them in.
  • Idiocracy: A truck adds to a massive pile of garbage. It gets compressed, but stays intact; then a single can falls out of the truck, triggering an avalanche dozens of meters high.
  • In K2: Siren of the Himalayas, the team tells of an incident the previous year, when a chunk of ice came loose and torn out the fixed ropes the expedition at the time was using. As a result, many of them were lost on the mountain.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Bond and Traci are skiing away from SPECTRE mooks when Blofeld deliberately detonates a flare above some hanging rocks and ice to trigger an avalanche.
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: After kidnapping the women, the men start an avalanche so they can't be pursued by the townspeople by firing pistols into the air repeatedly while the women all scream at the top of their lungs.
  • Snow Trail: A posse is chasing three bank robbers up a snowy mountain pass. The cop leading the posse warns the others not to fire a gun in the mountain pass as the area is very prone to avalanches. One of the thieves takes a shot at a police dog that's chasing him, and sure enough triggers an avalanche, which kills another thief, but allows the other two thieves to temporarily escape the posse when the snow closes the road behind them.
  • xXx: Xander intentionally causes an avalanche with a grenade and then snowboards his way down the mountain in front of it.

  • Happens twice in The Boundless.
    • At the beginning of the book, an avalanche is caused by cheering and gunfire from people celebrating the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
    • Near the end of the book, another avalanche occurs when The Boundless lets loose some loud whistles in the mountains.
  • Mentioned in Frankenstein. As Victor Frankenstein climbs a mountain, he remarks that even a loud voice would be able to trigger an avalanche.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hagrid mentions to Harry, Ron and Hermione that the giants' snores caused an avalanche the night before him and Madame Maxime approached them for negociation.
  • Mentioned in The Magician's Nephew. When Polly and Digory discover the abandoned empire of Charn, they see a massive wall that looks as if it could collapse at any moment. Digory says that if it's lasted until now, it will probably last a bit longer, but they must be very quiet, as noise could suddenly bring it down, like an avalanche in the Alps. Soon after this, he makes noise in a massive way.
  • Happens in Jean Kirby's novel Olympic Duty in the Nurses Three series. While a small, strategic avalanche is being planned to alleviate a more dangerous one, a photographer who's prevented from going closer shouts in anger, thus triggering a large, fatal (although not to him) avalanche.
  • Mentioned in Reaper Man.
    One yodel out of place would attract, not the jolly echo of a lonely goatherd, but fifty tons of express-delivery snow.
  • Averted in The Snow Tiger by Desmond Bagley. Although it's assumed a light aircraft carrying journalists triggered a fatal avalanche, an expert testifies afterwards that tests involving aircraft (including supersonic jetfighters) proved this was impossible.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Sign of the Moon, somehow an avalanche is triggered by the cats fighting off an eagle that was trying to carry one of them away; the characters get swept up in it but survive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Benny Hill Show: In a sketch, Benny causes an avalanche by sneezing after taking some snuff.
  • Happens to Father Larry Duff in one of the Father Ted Christmas Specials when an avalanche is triggered by his phone ringing.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "The Ice Warriors", Victoria screams to cause an avalanche that kills the Ice Warrior coming after her.
    • In "The Happiness Patrol", Fifi is crushed to death when Earl uses his harmonica to trigger an avalanche of the unstable crystallized sugar deposits in the pipes.
  • In the next-to-last episode of Hogan's Heroes, the boys are charged with blocking a mountain pass. Denied the chance to mine the pass itself, they resort to attempting one of these. Their chosen method is a jam session with Carter on the horn and Hogan on the drums. The bad news: It fails. The good news: Col. Klink produces a timely Sneeze of Doom.
  • The I Love Lucy episode "Lucy in the Swiss Alps" has the main cast in a cabin with a big cliff of snow over it, trying not to make any noise that would trigger an avalanche. When Lucy slams the door, it causes an avalanche.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000, while watching Avalanche, Jonah and the bots get bored waiting for the titular event to occur and attempt to invoke it by shouting and banging cymbals together.
  • Tested (and busted) by the MythBusters in several ways. Yodeling, cracking a whip, and firing up to two automatic rifles all failed to set off an avalanche. It took quite a few charges of TNT to cause one.
    • That last one is Truth in Television, explosives are used to preemptively set off avalanches with the area evacuated to reduce the risk of one happening by surprise.
  • Tiere bis unters Dach: While camping in the mountains, a hunter's gunshot triggers an avalanche.
  • Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues: In 1950, Indy (Harrison Ford) and his friend are pursued and take refuge from a snowstorm in a cabin. After the bad guys catch on them and steal the artifact of the day, Indiana Jones seems to give up and just play on a soprano sax... until he blows a long note, making the snow on top of the cabin and the nearby trees fall down and bury the villains.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Early in the first stage of Demon Skin, you try jumping down a cliff while scaling a snow-covered hill, only to trigger a massive avalanche as a result. Which turns into an Advancing Wall of Doom (wall of collapsing ice?) you must outrun or lose a life.
  • Nancy gets buried alive by one in Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek.
  • Pokémon has an ice-type move called Avalanche, which doubles in power when the user is damaged by the opponent in the same turn.
  • The second part of Sonic's Ice Cap stage in Sonic Adventure starts with him breaking some boards, triggering an avalanche and starting the snowboarding section of the level.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, the first avalanche on Barbarossa was caused by the protagonist and Tamara opening the door of a cable car that had just happened to fall in the snow.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends does this in the episode "Ski Ya, Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya!" with Flaky screaming so loudly over her foot that it causes an avalanche that possibly kills Giggles and Petunia.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Happens in Adventure Time. In "Death in Bloom", Finn warns Jake that they have to be quiet because the flesh-eating skeletons nearby will notice them if they make any noise. Immediately after he warns him about this, Jake lets out a large fart which causes a rock avalanche and gets him and Finn spotted. Jake's reasoning? "I thought it would be funny..."
  • All Hail King Julien has Julien try to start a rockslide with a boom box, but when cranking the audio causes it to break, a blood-curdling scream does the trick instead.
  • American Dad! episode "A Smith in the Hand" does it twice when Stan screams from masturbating.
  • This happens in one of the Heyyy, It's the King! shorts on CB Bears. The avalanche is caused by the sound of the hippo character eating potato chips.
  • Dennis's dad on Dennis the Menace (US) calls out for him and gets a local's warning too late.
  • In the first episode of Inspector Gadget, Gadget triggers a small avalanche while trying to sing along with the Mad Yodeler's sheet music.
  • In a TV movie for The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy and his buddies are spies, and one scene has them climbing Mount Everest. The following dialogue ensues:
    Carl: [singing] We're spies! And it's really cold! I wish I had some hot chocolate!
    Jimmy: Quiet, Carl! You could start an avalanche!
    Sheen: [at the top of his lungs] AVALANCHE?!
    [rumbling is heard]
    Jimmy: ...Like that.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy intentionally does this in order for him and Beezy to go snowboarding.
  • Jonny Quest TOS did this twice.
    • "House of Seven Gargoyles". A member of the submarine crew fires a rifle while under Strontium Glacier, causing it to collapse on Ivar and themselves.
    • "Calcutta Adventure". Dr. Quest's ultrasonic amplifier causes an avalanche that destroys the bad guys and their base.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the short "The Iceman Ducketh", Bugs Bunny warns Daffy Duck not to talk too loud or it might start an avalanche. Daffy whispers whether it's okay to speak now, but Bugs can't understand him, so Daffy shouts the question and is buried by falling snow.
    • In the Bugs vs. Yosemite Sam cartoon "Piker's Peak", Sam deliberately triggers an avalanche in an effort to bury Bugs. Of course, Sam gets swamped instead.
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): "Yodelberg" takes place in the German Alps, where Mickey wants to visit Minnie's mountaintop house, but quickly realizes that he might encounter an avalanche along the way. Of course, all throughout the short, he has to carefully maneuver around a variety of things that could set one off, like a forest full of cuckoo clocks, a Burping Contest, and an angry abominable snowman whom Mickey has to warn to keep quiet. While Mickey makes it to Minnie's house in the end, the front door being blown shut does end up causing an avalanche, though it's the yeti who gets buried.
  • One episode of Mister Go involves the title character skiing in a snowy mountain, and he triggers one when he starts yodeling despite Bip's warnings.
  • Occurs in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Dragonshy". While climbing a (snowless) mountain, Twilight Sparkle warns the others that they're entering an avalanche zone and that the smallest noise could create a rock slide. Fluttershy, already on pins-and-needles, instantly panics and shouts "Avala—!" when she feels something touch her backside. She's immediately hushed as they wait for the echoes to stop. Then they sigh with relief. This triggers the rock slide.
  • In Pinky and the Brain, Brain makes a machine that predicts the future and sees that he will grow old without taking over the world. Disheartened, he gives up on his plans, and retires to the alps to be a ski instructor. Pinky, missing his friend, uses the machine to check on Brain, and sees Brain dying when he unwittingly triggers an avalanche by singing the Ricola jingle. Pinky rushes to warn Brain and Brain, thinking the machine to be infallible, believes that there is no saving him and accidentally triggers the avalanche by shouting at Pinky to get away from him and save himself. The two mice survive, proving to Brain that the machine was inaccurate, and the pair return home to scheme anew.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Cabin Fever", Ed Bighead screams his frustration at having to share a mountain cabin with Rocko and Heffer for the weekend, causing the snowy slope nearby to bury the cabin and trap the group inside.
    Ed: How can I rest when I have to spend my weekend with those two PINHEADS!?
  • In the Rugrats episode "The Blizzard," when the babies imagine themselves traveling to the North Pole, an avalanche is triggered at one point by a hiccup from Phil.
  • The Simpsons
    • Episode "Mountain of Madness": The first avalanche is caused by Homer and Mr. Burns clinking two glasses together in a toast. The second is caused by their boisterous "Huzzah!" after digging themselves out of the first. Then,
      Homer: I think when we yelled we caused another avalanche. [another avalanche]
      Burns: [whispering] We should... be... careful... not... to speak... unless... it's... absolutely... pos-i-tively... necessary. [AVALANCHE]
      Homer: Shh. [AVALANCHE] You're... causing... more... avalanches. [AVALANCHE] I [AVALANCHE] think [AVALANCHE] they've [AVALANCHE] stopped. [Beat] ... [AVALANCHE]
      Burns: Let's go. [AVALANCHE]
    • In the episode "Mr. Plow", Barney's burp caused an avalanche.
  • Brainy Smurf causes one at the beginning of The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Smurfs That Time Forgot".
  • Played with in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Idiot Box".
    SpongeBob: I think we should keep our voices down in case of avalanche!
    Patrick: What?
    SpongeBob: I said we should keep our voices DOWN in case of avalanche!
    Patrick: What should we keep down?
    SpongeBob: [shouting] OUR VOICES!
    [Squidward kicks the box]
    [avalanche sounds plus SpongeBob and Patrick screaming in terror emit from their cardboard box until the avalanche fades away, leaving SpongeBob and Patrick sobbing from the pain]
    Squidward: [horrified, touches the box very gingerly] Sponge...Bob?
    [sounds from a second avalanche plus SpongeBob and Patrick screaming in terror emit from their cardboard box]
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?: In the episode "There's No Creature Like Snow Creature," Velma gets a nasty cold. As Avalanche Anderson, who controlled the Snow Creature is getting away, Scooby aims Velma so her sneeze is toward the mountains, causing an avalanche and catching Avalanche off-guard.
  • In the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "Koopa Klaus," Koopa's Scrooge-like yelling about Christmas causes one.
  • Total Drama: Avalanches and cave-ins sometimes cause trouble to the contestants.
    • In "Slap Slap Revolution", the teams have to sing a song in an avalanche-sensitive area in Austria. They pull through without triggering anything until Tyler shouts out in happiness because Lindsay finally recognizes him as her boyfriend.
    • In "A Mine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste", Lightning causes a minor cave-in that buries his team when he lets out an enthusiastic "SHA-BAM!!" upon making it inside the mine first.
    • In "This Is the Pits!", the campers are forced into an underground cave system and have to make it out on their own. To his credit, Chris only whispers to them while they are there, as loud noises trigger cave-ins. Jasmine, Sugar, and Max all get into situations that provoke them into yelling the ceiling down.
    • In "Three Zones and a Baby", Topher shouts victoriously in the avalanche zone and gets Pimâpotew Kinosewak buried in snow.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: One episode had Eliza's broken yodel be enough to cause a huge avalanche.


Video Example(s):


Mountain Climbing Adventure

A simple game from Spongebob and Patrick in a box leads to them getting hit with two avalanches and getting to the point of needing to cut their limbs off.

How well does it match the trope?

4.64 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlackComedy

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