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Instant Soprano

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"Wadda ya tryin' to do; make me a soprano??"
A drunk responding to Larry kicking him in the nuts, Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards

A comic follow-up to a Groin Attack, this is when a male character whose gonads have suffered injury cries out or speaks in a much higher frequency than his voice usually displays. Most often it's just a brief squeak of anguish, surprisingly high-pitched; in more extreme cases, he may talk, whine or even sing in falsetto for a time, or have his voice dubbed temporarily by an actress.

Less slapstick-oriented works sometimes reference this phenomenon, as when a Deadpan Snarker taunts a male with a high-pitched voice about his Vocal Dissonance, or The Snark Knight narrowly avoids a Groin Attack and muses how close he came to playing this trope straight.

While shrill yelps at the initial injury may be justified, prolonged high-pitched speech is a misconception, based on the false notion that eunuchs' voices are always high-pitched. In actuality, while boys whose testes are lost before puberty will retain a high vocal range into adulthood, a grown man whose voice already changed in adolescence can't lose his masculine tone of speech due to testicular injury: his larynx (voice box) has already grown to a larger size that produces deep sounds, and lack of testosterone won't make it shrink. Castration is not retroactive.

Is somewhat Truth in Television, as you may hear some wincing and yelping after. But rarely exaggerated to the point of some of these examples.

Subtrope of Vocal Dissonance. Works that overplay it follow it up with Share the Male Pain. Helium Speech is a non-painful variant. If he's trying to say his catchphrase while this trope is in play, it's a case of Alternate Catchphrase Inflection.

Not related to Innocent Soprano, or The Sopranos, unless the mob is fighting really dirty.


    open/close all folders 

  • An animated commercial for Duluth Trading Company's Ballroom jeans shows a large man squatting in a competitor's brand and singing soprano while doing so.
  • A Lee jeans commercial from the early '90s had a singing man who recently emerged from the shower go from deep bass to a high soprano the minute he zipped up his tight-fitting jeans.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Referenced by Dona Hermine in De Cape et de Crocs.
    Dona Hermine: Come any closer and you'll be able to sing for the pope!
  • In Animal Man, the Bakers' neighbour, Morris Weidemeir, fires a warning shot at Ellen's would-be rapist and tells him, "One more step, sonny, you're singing soprano."
  • In a MAD gag, a man tried a helium vending machine for a dollar. His friend wanted to try it but only had a quarter, which was just enough for the "helium substitute" machine next to it, which sent a mechanical foot straight into his crotch.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, four guards let out a high-pitched squeal (but not helium sounding) after receiving a simultaneous crotch kick from a guy on stilts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Django Unchained, the titular character shoots Billy Crash non-fatally, and he writhes around on the ground screaming; then Django shoots him in the groin and the screaming instantly climbs an octave.
  • In The Ice Pirates, the eunuchs speak in falsetto after being castrated during their conveyor-belt ride.
  • Hot Shots!:
    • In the flashback scene of Buzz Harley and "Mailman" Farnham, the latter gets blown back by the wind and hits the plane's tail between the legs. He then says in a squeaky voice "I'm okay!"
    • Also happens to Topper's unfortunate opponent in the opening scene of Hot Shots! Part Deux.
  • This happens to Jernigan in Home Alone 3 after Alice hits him with a crowbar when attempting to hit Doris the rat, who had crawled into his pants.
  • Inspector Gadget (1999) has Gadget accidentally grab a guru's testicles when told to "reach out and grab the balls" (meaning the marbles on a pedestal). The guru's reduced to squealing "TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!" in a very high voice. The poor guru is then loaded into an ambulance holding a huge icepack on his crotch and still in a high squeaky voice.
    Guru: He's not a man, you know! He's a monster! [sobs in pain]
  • Happens in The Three Stooges 2012 movie when Larry gets a lobster down his pants.
  • In The Pirate Movie, a comedy 1980s version of The Pirates of Penzance, the enemy Chinese pirate says/sings "Spare me!" and the Pirate King says, "Ooh, an Irish Tenor, no less! We could use an Irish Tenor, lads!" He accidentally stabs the man in the crotch and the guy goes "yeeOOOWWW" in a very high-pitched voice. "Soprano! Even better."
  • In A Christmas Story, the Old Man gets a bowling ball dropped in his lap for Christmas, and his voice goes at least a little bit higher.
    Well, it's a blue ball!
  • In History of the World Part I, to a Roman soldier after Comicus (Mel Brooks) kicked him there.
  • Again in Robin Hood: Men in Tights when Blinkin offers a handshake to Achoo, and inadvertently hits him square in the crotch.
    Blinkin: How're you doing?
    Achoo: (high pitched) I've been better!
  • In Hook, Peter's voice goes briefly high-pitched after he's hit with a (thankfully-blunt) arrow in the groin.
  • In the lost ending of Freaks, Hercules the strongman would have been punished by the "freaks" by castration. He would have then become a castrato singer, and now a freak himself.
  • In the movie Summer Rental, John Candy's character gets socked in the groin and he starts singing the first line of "The Star-Spangled Banner", which has a rising high pitch.
  • In the movie Howard the Duck, Howard barely survives a butcher knife landing near his groin and he responds to Beverely's query of whether he's alright in a soprano.
  • In The Running Man, Ben Richards shoves the blade of Buzzsaw's titular weapon into his groin area, causing him to emit a scream that went higher in pitch.
  • Francis lets out a high-pitched scream in The Goonies after he slips on a log over a stream of water and lands on it groin-first.
  • The Toxic Avenger
    • In The Toxic Avenger, the crook Cigar Face curses Toxie in a high voice after suffering a blow to the nads.
    • A rare female example of this occurs in The Toxic Avenger Part II, where a woman is shown speaking in a high-pitched voice after getting hit in the crotch.
  • The Mask: Stanley is subjected to a Groin Attack when he gets too forward with Tina. Because he's wearing the eponymous artifact, it barely slows him down:
    [high-pitched] "She is so coy!" [back to normal] "I love it!"

  • There is a dutch joke that, translated, goes like this: "Two men are swimming in the ocean when one of them glimpses something he recognizes beneath the surface. Quickly swimming to his mate, he shouts, "We have to leave the water immediately! I just saw a SHARK!" If it's not clear, the speaker raises their own voice to soprano level the moment they say "SHARK!". This provides context of what the shark has just taken a great big chomp out of without stating it directly.
  • Three samurai are debating which of them is the most skilled with the sword. The first points to a fly buzzing around, draws his sword, swings, and sheathes it before both halves of the fly fall to the ground. The second samurai points to another fly, draws his sword, swings, and sheathes before the fly's body falls to the ground, followed by its wings some time after. The third samurai points to another fly, draws his sword, swings, and sheathes his sword. The other two samurai look confused, as the fly is still in the air... but realize its buzzing is suddenly much higher-pitched.

  • Garrett, P.I.: In Cold Copper Tears, Garrett refers to members of a nihilistic cult as "sopranos" after finding out that they're all ritually castrated.
  • This happens several times in The Dresden Files:
    • In Dead Beat, Will returns Harry's pistol to him, having carried it tucked into his pants. Harry remarks that this is a good way to invoke this trope on oneself.
    • In the short story "Heorot", Harry hits the grendelkin in the fire extinguisher while they're fighting. Although his opponent's post-injury voice doesn't sound particularly high-pitched by human standards, the huge creature's bottomless-well-deep speech does rise by a couple of octaves, to something more typical of humans than of giants.
    • Harry himself gets subjected to a Groin Attack, and subsequent involuntary Mickey Mouse impression, in Cold Days.
  • Discworld:
    • The Fools' Guild Diary mentions an incident in which King Harold the Rampant neglected to comply with his jester's suggestion that he adjust his chain mail. This negligence, together with the very good aim of a Pseudopolitan archer, is why the Battle of the Field of Cloth and Ants ended on such a remarkably high note.
    • In Sourcery, the slaver captain asks Rincewind if he can sing before revealing his intent to sell him as a eunuch.
  • Dream Park: In The California Voodoo Game, one character glares at another with such hatred that if looks could cut, the other would've been eligible for First Soprano in the Vienna Boys Choir.
  • The Gorillaz autobiography Rise of the Ogre discusses the filming of Clint Eastwood, which had a zombie grabbing Murdoc in the balls. According to Murdoc, it really hurt and he was "singing falsetto for weeks".
  • Mary Roach, in her non-fiction treatise on science and sex Bonk, cites the case of an obsessively devout man who, taking the Bible's Matthew 19:12 all too literally, removed and destroyed his own testes. She speculates that he went on to achieve great success in the church choir.
  • Journey to Chaos: After delivering a Groin Attack to his enemy, the girly looking Getis, Eric notes that his following Who Dares? was extra girly and not in the least threatening.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Marooned", Rimmer says he believes that in a past life he was Alexander the Great's... chief eunuch. Lister responds, "No wonder you're such a good singer."
  • In All in the Family, Mike spoke in falsetto after having a vasectomy. (He was only kidding.)
  • Referenced in Band of Brothers when one of the troops sings a line from Oklahoma! in tenor, and another soldier teases him, asking if he was sitting on his bayonet.
  • Referenced in a holiday episode of Fear Factor — the host described a plate of ten reindeer testicles as "five reindeer singing soprano".
  • Done on Cheers when Rebecca accidentally hits Sam in the crotch with a coatrack, excited about the prospect of making a baby with him. Later, as he sings to her seductively while they dance, she comments that she didn't know he could reach a note that high. "I couldn't before the coatrack," he admits.
  • A rare female version occurred on The Big Bang Theory. Amy spoke in a higher register for a while after receiving her first bikini wax.
  • Hawkeye from M*A*S*H complained that he'd become a soprano when he was suffering from stress-related impotency.
  • A blooper that was left in the final cut of All That, Kenan, during one of the Pierre Escargot sketches accidentally dropped a prop on his groin. He delivered his next lines in a high-pitched voice.
  • In The Red Green Show, Red mentions this happening to Buster Hatfield during a hockey game after taking a slapshot from Moose Thompson.
    Red: You know how Buster has a false set o' teeth? Now he has a falsetto voice.
    Harold: What did he hit, like a high "C"?
    Red: More like a high "F". Actually, he said the whole word.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Seth", Daniel had previously informed the team that past cults of Seth sometimes turned their men into eunuchs. When Seth gasses them later:
    Jack: So help me, if I wake up and I'm singin' soprano... (passes out; fade to black)
  • A variant occurs in the So Little Time episode "True Lies", where Jake speaks in a hilariously high-pitched voice after having frozen food shoved down his pants.
  • The Goodies: "Saturday Night Grease" has Tim talking in a really high pitched voice that drops to his normal register as he unzips his ridiculously tight trousers.
  • Black Books, "The Blackout". A Running Gag has Manny, who has drank so much coffee and watched so much The Sweeney that he's permanently stuck in hyped-up cop mode, trying to sit on a chair backward like a suave cop. It doesn't work because he keeps "sitting on meself". The very last time he does it, to close out the episode, he says in a helium-induced pitch:
    Manny: "That was a particularly bad one."
  • A non-painful variant from Doctor Who. In "New Earth", when Cassandra — in Rose's body — kisses the Doctor completely out of the blue, the latter freezes for a couple of seconds during Post-Kiss Catatonia, before muttering how he's "still got it" in a very squeaky voice.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "City Limits", while viewing a brawl between a would-be Clippers gang member and some thugs, one of the bots quips about a Groin Attack:
    "Look, now he's a Vienna Boys Clipper!"
  • In the Blackadder episode "Born to Be King". Edmund Blackadder is introduced to Duke McAngus as the man in charge of the entertainment.
    McAngus: Ah, the eunuch! Here's a groat for your trouble.
    Edmund: *holding back his anger, which raises the pitch of his voice* I am not a eunuch!
    McAngus: You sound like one to me.

  • The Paul and Storm song "Why, Baby, Why?" is a falsetto doo-wop in which it turns out that the woman he's singing to has just done this to him.
  • John Barrowman while singing "Anything You Can Do", as seen here.
  • Richard Harris's version of "MacArthur Park" does this on the last note, which is sung by a female backup vocalist.
  • In the music video of Panic! at the Disco's "Say Amen (Saturday Night)", Brendon Urie gets kicked in the groin by his girlfriend just before he hits the high note.
  • Massacration, the Fake Band created by Brazilian comedy group Hermes & Renato, had this as the backstory of singer Detonator, who said he castrated himself to be able to hit high notes.

  • In radio comedy show The Burkiss Way, showbiz impresario Lord Low Grade is heard to remark that the month's rent is due on the barbed-wire jockstraps he hired to The Bee Gees.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Woody Allen once claimed that he was punched by a criminal:
    He snapped his knee up, quickly, and I refused to give him the satisfaction of doubling over, but I did one of the greatest imitations of Lily Pons, you've ever heard. I hit an M over high C...

    Tabletop Games 
  • In one of the Grimtooth's Traps books, this trope is cited in the name of the so-called "Soprano Chest", which has a heavy lid and a board sticking out at the bottom front, designed such that when the chest is opened, the whole thing tips over backward, sending the board up between a character's legs.

  • In the second Bottom Live tour, Richie (Rik Mayall) and Eddie (Ade Edmonson) are fighting, when Rik accidentally punches Ade in the nads. Out of character, Rik apologises to Ade, who speaks a couple of octaves higher to complete the effect.
  • Subverted in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Escape from the Seraglio, in which a eunuch (presumably castrated after puberty) has a deep bass voice.
  • In Man of La Mancha, during "Dulcinea", Aldonza punches one of the taunters in the groin turning him into a soprano for his next line.

    Video Games 
  • In TimeSplitters Future Perfect, Jo-Beth Casey briefly mistakes Cortez for a zombie and kicks him in the crotch. His next line is a high-pitched squeak.
  • Discussed in Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards; you can perform a groin attack on the drunk at Leftys bar by walking into him so your foot connects with his privates. The second time you do this, he responds with the page quote.
  • Receiver 2 refers to this when discussing the Glock 17. Its lack of external safety means that a negligent discharge is much easier than with other pistols, so you shouldn't tuck one into your waistband unless you "really need help hitting those high notes."

  • Schlock Mercenary: Dr. Bunnigus threatens one of the grunts with this after word gets out that she used to be an exotic dancer.
    Nick: I saw the news. . . Izzit true you used to be an exotic dancer?
    Bunni: (sigh) Yes, It's true.
    (Beat Panel.)
    Nick: Well?
    Bunni: How would you like to be able to count to ten as a soprano, Corporal?

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Checkmate", Vampire King seemingly has no reaction to Finn repeatedly kicking him in the boing-loings, but his next line is in a strained, high-pitched voice.
    Marceline: Finn, you can stop.
    Finn: Oh, okay, now we're stopping. Sorry, dude.
    Vampire King: It's chill.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: At the time, a Groin Attack could be included in the show with careful positioning. To indicate to the viewer that it actually had happened, note the Joker's noticeably girlish higher voice after.
  • Stan from American Dad! went through this after stepping on a rake, hitting him in the groin causing his testicles to retract.
  • In the intro to the Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Ron faces a Sumo Ninja, who speaks with a deep voice. After Kim beats him, Ron gives him a wedgie. Later, near climax, the Sumo Ninja comes back, looking for vengeance... only now, he speaks with a high, squeaky, girly voice.
    Ron: Dude, don't talk! The high voice, it kinda ruins your mystique.
  • Star Wars Rebels. In "Idiot's Array", Lando Calrissian uses Hera Syndulla as The Bait in his latest scheme, by pretending to sell her off as a slave girl. Hera is not amused and makes him Talk to the Fist on her return, and Lando's momentary Helium Speech suggests it wasn't his stomach she aimed for.
    Lando: *high-pitched voice* Okay, I deserved that...*voice returning to normal* But can we get back to the business at hand?
  • In the 2 Stupid Dogs episode "Las Pelotas!", when Big Dog gets hit in the crotch by tennis balls, he replies to Little Dog's statement of "Balls!" by saying "Yeah, I know", in a much higher voice than usual.
  • Johnny Bravo: Mentioned in an old "Well be right back" bumper.
    Johnny: I told her we could make beautiful music together, but she left me singin' the soprano. Ooh, those feisty girls drive me crazy!
  • The Boondocks has a Jack Bauer expy whose Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique consists entirely of repeated kicks to the nuts. After a particularly tough detainee refuses to divulge information on a terrorist attack, he puts on a metal boot heavy enough to clang with each step, and walks down the hall to get a running start. The terrorist breaks just before he hits, with a cut to outside as he screams the coerced information, his voice rising in pitch.
  • What A Cartoon! Show: In "The Fat Cats in: Drip Dry Drips", Louie accidentally hits the president in the crotch while measuring his inseam, causing the latter to briefly speak in a high-pitched voice.
    Louie: Sorry, Mr. President!
    President: *in a strained, high-pitched voice* No problem!
  • The Smurfs (2021): In a variation of this trope, Smurfette gets Hefty to sing the higher notes by stepping on his foot with her heel when he was disguised as a girl Smurf in "Smurfs In Disguise".
  • Phineas and Ferb: In the episode "My Fair Goalie", Baljeet lets out a high-pitched scream after Buford accidentally hitting his groin with a soccer ball. To be specific, the scream was in the key of E-flat above high C, and that combined with wearing a bonnet when the scream occurred allows Ferb to break free of the Curse of the Emu.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • An episode of Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production has Bugs Bunny join a soccer team. When the mean-spirited opposing team makes the opening kick, all the members on Bugs' team save Bugs himself cover their groins; immediately after Bugs asks why, the ball hits him in the crotch, his voice then going up a few octaves as he says, "Oh, that's why."
    • Looney Tunes Cartoons: The ending of the short "Fully Vetted", in which Sylvester tries to catch Tweety in a veterinarian office, has him unwittingly enter a vet's operating room. It's obvious what happened in there when he comes out hours later, totally traumatized and wearing a diaper, before walking into the street and laying down to get hit by a truck.
      Tweety: Oh, there you are, puddy tat. Did they fix ya up real good?
      Sylvester: (in a high-pitched voice) Yeah. They fixed me, alright.
  • Robot Chicken: In the 200th episode "Endgame", the Nerd lets out a high-operatic scream after Deadpool kicked him in the crotch while they were in prison.


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