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Noisy Nature

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In fiction, whether the characters are in the Wild Wilderness, the Hungry Jungle, or just in a Suburbia backyard, animals make loud noises. Cats meow, dogs bark or howl, horses neigh or whinny, birds chirp, snakes hiss, and so on; exactly where, when, and how you'd expect...

Thing is, an animal in that situation probably wouldn't make that noise... or any noise at all.

Cats tend to be quiet unless they want something, and the same goes for horses and dogs unless they are excited by something. Rats and mice rarely make human-audible noises. Owls, hawks, and other birds intentionally make noise under exactly three circumstances: to claim territory, to threaten potential predators, and to communicate with other members of their family or social group. The same generally goes for other animals that can make sounds. An animal who has been hurt in all likelihood will not react vocally at all, except for maybe one brief yelp at the moment of injury — it's not smart to announce to every predator in the area that you're an easy meal. And all the fictional predators who let out a blood-curdling roar/scream/whatever as they stalk their prey are idiots, because the whole point of a roar is to announce your presence, intimidate whatever is in front of you, and hope it'll run away. Do that while hunting and you're bound to lose your lunch (group hunting animals are a rare exception as they may try to scare prey toward another member of their group). In short, even animals that are highly vocal are still quiet most of the time, and generally only make sounds for specific reasons.

And that's not counting the fictionary tendency for everything to roar. Say your hero is being attacked by something non-human and possibly even outside the animal kingdom; a plant or a robot or something. But we still know it's angry and very dangerous. Why? Because the thing is roaring as it fights. It might also scream in pain if the hero manages to fight back. Man Eating Plants, despite lacking in the vocal cord--or lung--department, will roar, scream and hiss just in case you didn't know they were dangerous. In a similarly helpful manner Giant Spiders and Big Creepy-Crawlies scream or hiss and there are at least two documented cases (in fiction, of course) of roaring sharks. And if you've got to fight a robot that looks like a particular animal, you can be damn well certain that robot will make the sounds of that animal.

The trope title comes from any and all cases of ambient "jungle sounds" dubbed over scenes set out in the Wild. The funny thing about this is that one of the appealing things about visiting wild places is how quiet they tend to be, especially during the daytime. The forest only tends to be interesting, sound-wise, at night (and even then, it's relatively speaking) or during a short period in spring when all the songbirds are staking out their nesting spots. Visit in winter and you'll usually "hear" eerie silence.

Super-Trope to Noisy Duck and Roar Before Beating. May disrupt Suspension of Disbelief for tropers who know their stuff about animals. Not to be confused with Cute, but Cacophonic. Noisy forests also tend to be places where everything is trying to kill you. See also Misplaced Wildlife, All Animals Are Dogs, Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras, Bug Buzz, Silly Animal Sound, and Incorrect Animal Noise. Use of Stock Sound Effects is a common culprit. Possibly related to Small Reference Pools. Compare Spooky Animal Sounds.

Then again, possibly the best reason to use this trope is for our heroes to suddenly realize that it has suddenly gotten quiet.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • GaoGaiGar: Galeon roars at every opportunity, just because it's dramatic. (Wouldn't you if you were a giant robot lion?) Sometimes it's justified, as the roar is being used to negate barriers.
  • Subverted in Mazinger Z first episode. The Professor Dr. Kabuto's village -where he built the titular Humongous Mecha- was set in Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji is infamous — among other things — because it is eerily silent due to the absence of wildlife. So when Dr. Kabuto heard noises near his house — not long after his grandson told him that their maid had been murdered — he knew there were intruders near and his life was in danger.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The episode "Chikorita's Big Upset" had dogs barking in the background during the scene where a Hitmonlee, a Hitmonchan, a Machoke, and a Primape find the titular Chikorita lost in the woods.
    • In Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice, contrasting its hissing cry in the games, Kyurem's roar has a bit of a leopard's growl in it.
    • In the Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo radio drama, Miyamoto shows off a recording from a South America jungle that features very loud bird and insect Pokémon noises.

    Films — Animated 
  • Finding Nemo has a roaring barracuda and a screeching anglerfish. Given their respective scenes are particularly heavy on Nightmare Fuel, this is most likely a case of Rule of Scary. The giant squid from Finding Dory also utters a few guttural growls and snarls.
  • Played with in Madagascar; the main characters are animals in a New York City zoo. Fair enough - but in the background are generic jungle noises. The cast goes to bed... and someone yells to turn off the ambiance. When that happens, a generic New York City background noise replaces it, complete with police car/firetruck/ambulance siren wailing. Alex the lion then yawns and relaxes and goes to sleep. Surprisingly, this is Truth in Television, since many zoos do have random jungle white noise played throughout the park to make the guests (and animals) feel more immersed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The extended version of Will Vinton's short Dinosaurs! is exceedingly surreal for an educational film. The trippiness almost excuses the fact that it's got Loons in a forest and Ravens at night. There's also a bit of an Everything Roars thing going on as the clip includes distorted versions of both calls made to sound like screams. (Bonus: Dragons Are Dinosaurs and What Measure Is a Non-Cute?! You may not want to watch it if those tropes bother you a lot.)
  • A particularly jarring example occurs in the pirate movie Cutthroat Island. Among the ambient jungle noises on the small Caribbean island is a distinctly elephantine trumpeting. In the Caribbean. Once more: An elephant. In the Caribbean.
  • Much subtler - so much so that it has to be pointed out in the commentary - is in Jurassic Park, in the scene where Nedry "fights" the dilophosaur. The commentary explicitly notes, no, there are no elephants on the island, it's just there to pull the viewer into the jungle setting. thirty seconds to shout at the top of its lungs.
  • Kumonga. Roaring spiders anyone? Kumonga sounded more like he was daintily sneezing. Kamacuras the giant praying mantis definitely screeched, and Megalon made a metallic grinding/shrieking roar. Also Mothra's ethereal chirps.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. A Threatening Shark roars as it swims towards our heroine. She punches the shark on the nose causing it to whimper instead. Then she grabs hold of its fin and rides it to the surface.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 features some examples.
    • The classic, Werewolf (1996), which takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona. It has every variation of this trope: Wolf-people who never shut up, growling and howling at everything. Red-tailed Hawks crying at night. A crappy Werewolf puppet who makes the calls of a hawk and a bat (WTF seems sadly inefficient here). And a soundtrack that uses every one of these animal calls as its Scare Chords.
    • Cave Dwellers, has roaring snakes (technically the real snakes merely growl. The giant rubber puppet snake roars).
  • Prancer has it all too: an injured Reindeer who won't stay quiet and bellows at maximum volume all the time, and Spring Peepers chirping in the middle of a Christmas Eve blizzard. A-ha.
  • Elf: Buddy encounters a raccoon that chitters five times. When he tries to hug it, it attacks him and lets out a screech that sounds like a monkey. (Unlike the other animals in the film, this animal is not from Christmas Town, so there's no reason it shouldn't behave like an ordinary raccoon.)
  • Oddly enough, Tarzan of the Apes uses the lion roaring as it attacks, but seems to be aware that this can easily be a tactical mistake. The book claims that most animals are frozen in fear by the sound of the lion's roar, and only Tarzan himself, being human, is smart enough that the roar alerts him and encourages him to fight back. Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn't one to let the actual facts about lions get in the way of the story—the bigger question here is, what was a plains-dwelling animal like a lion doing in the middle of the jungle?
  • Possibly justified with RoboCop's ED-209: the (presumably prerecorded) lion's roar probably works as a pretty decent criminal deterrent, and the pig's squealing is very useful when it's on trouble (ie, failing to take down stairs)
  • Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors is exceptionally vocal for a plant. Possibly justified in that it's a space alien.
  • There's an odd scene in Evil Dead 2 in which Ash hears a series of weird noises that segue between animal-like snorting, ambiguous screeching, and vaguely-mechanical sounds. The overall impression is that a carnivorous locomotive is circling the place.
  • The titular Anaconda on occasion hisses. But if injured or in pursuit of our heroes, it will squeal and wail.
  • Though this is played with in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring where, judging by their extremely cacophonic cries, Saruman's scary flock of avian spies are evidently Starlings (yes, they've invaded New Zealand too.)
    • They're supposed to be black crows, though.
      • Technically they're crebain, which are described as similar to black crows. Being fictional birds there's no "correct" crebain call, but they still seem to make more noise than they should.
      • Averted in the book, as the crebain are silent, except for a solitary croak as the flock passes over the concealed Fellowship.
  • In Avatar, the Thanator (scary black panther thing) that chases Jake into the jungle keeps roaring at him. In frustration? Worse than that, though: it keeps pausing to roar at him. A predator that did that would starve.
  • The titular ape of the King Kong movies is incredibly noisy, frequently letting out monstrous roars. At least in the original film, they used the roars of big cats such as lions and tigers rather than actual ape sounds. To be fair, he is a fictional species of giant ape rather than an actual gorilla.
  • Python: The snake roars a lot, using recycled sound FX from Anaconda.
  • The Dark Crystal: Most of the scenes of the flora and fauna of Thra are rife with animal/insect sound and there's a plant with seed pods that take off like little copters with an audible 'pop.'
  • Them!: The film's giant lung-free ants constantly shriek and chitter. Admittedly, it does make them more creepy, and it can be handwaved that they've gone through other mutations besides their size increase.
  • In My Cousin Vinny, Vinny and Lisa take advantage of the DA's offer of using his hunting cabin in the woods to try and get a good night's sleep. Unfortunately for Vinny, a Screech Owl lives right outside the cabin.
  • Harry's commandeered police horse in True Lies snorts, grunts, or nickers at every gesture.

  • In the children's book Peace At Last, Mr Bear cannot sleep because of Mrs Bear's snoring. He tries sleeping in other places, such as in the garden, only to find it full of the noises made by animals; he also tries the car, but is disturbed by the dawn chorus of the singing birds.
  • Subverted in Tailchaser's Song. The Animal Talk used throughout most of the book is mainly non-verbal, as mentioned in Author's Notes. Common Singing is cross-species and is thus mainly body language and gestures. Higher Singing is species-specific, is rarely used, and (in the case of cat's) consists of yowling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Extraterrestrial (2005): The stalkers are extremely noisy beings, loudly screeching, cawing and croaking at all times, even when trying to find prey.
  • In the 1998 mini-series of Peter Benchley's Creature, the eponymous Shark Man somehow manages to roar while underwater.
  • Star Trek: The series often have American robins singing gaily in the background on various alien planets. So that's where they migrate in the winter...
  • CBS used to pipe in birdsong as "ambient sound" on their golf broadcasts. They stopped after an infamous instance where birdwatchers called them on the fact that the birds in a particular broadcast were not native to the location of the tournament.
  • The History Channel aired a program about a black African mummy found in the Sahara, in which footage of a contemporary African cattle-herding village was used to simulate what the dead boy's community might have been like. Unfortunately, a rooster is heard crowing in the background, and while the mummified boy's culture had acquired goats and cattle from the Middle East, chickens (an Asian species) wouldn't make it to Africa for another few thousand years.
  • Community: "English as a Second Language" puts nature recordings over the Pa. One of the tracks is entitled Antelope Slaughter at Indutu.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Buffy gets magically turned into a rat, a black cat stalks her, yowling repeatedly. Buffy also contains an example of the "everything that's dangerous roars" variety, as vampires often roar like lions when attacking, including Angel and Spike.
  • Documentaries are prone to putting in noises that aren't there in the actual footage in an attempt to be "more interesting". One example is a Smithsonian work that featured Black Mambas being hatched, complete with random hissing.
  • Happy Days: One episode finds the gang camping in the woods. At the very end, the air is filled with raucous animal noises of all varieties, getting louder. Fonzie yells "COOL IT!" and all sounds instantly stop.
  • Serengeti puts an emphasis on animal noises. It has a lot of flies buzzing, lions growling, zebras snorting, etc.
  • Lost: A subplot during "One of Us" has Sawyer trying to find and kill a noisy tree frog that aggravates his headache.
  • One episode of McHale's Navy sees the crew of the 73 trying to drive a fictional "Griffle Bird" off of their base because the noise keeps waking them up. The bird is clearly a Toucan but they dubbed the voice of a Kookaburra over it. Bear in mind that the show takes place on an island in the South Pacific, the Toucan is native to the tropical regions of the Americas while Kookaburras are from Australia.

  • "Jungle Fever" by Dick Dale (available as a bonus track on Surfers Choice) evokes this trope, as the band members imitate the sound of a kookaburra.
  • Parodied in the song "Tarzan and Jane" by the Danish band Toy-Box, which opens with a chorus of "jungle" sounds, including various birds singing, large cats growling, monkeys calling, sheep bleating, and elephants trumpeting.
  • They Might Be Giants' spoken-word piece "Turtle Songs of North America" is all about this sort of thing. It's hilariously bizarre.
  • The end of the song "The Black Mare" by Dragonland includes animal soundsnote  to show how the protagonists enter into Val'inthor, the forest where elves live.
  • Jungle is a subgenre of electronic music that often incorporates animal sounds (birds chirping, big cats roaring, etc.)

  • The Foundation Trilogy: In "Part Seven: The Mule Finds", the farm animals are noisier than the humans when the characters visit a pig farm. Pigs don't usually squeal and grunt constantly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted in a way with Warhammer 40,000's Tyranids. An Imperial Guard soldier noted the worst part of seeing an advancing Tyranid army was the total lack of vocal sound. No battle cries, wounded soldiers or shouted orders, just the tramp of clawed feet and rustling of chitin.
    • Except when another author writes them and they roar or hiss or go "skreee!". Even Lictors, famed for being extremely stealthy tend to let loose an ear-shattering "skreee!" on occasion.
  • Similar to the Warhammer example, Skelebots in Rifts can only vocalize a few prerecorded phrases like "Surrender or be destroyed" or "Does not compute." They coordinate attacks entirely through radio signals and use laser rifles, so in battle, there's not even the sound of gunfire. The book mentions just how terrifying it is to have a couple dozen robots that look like black skeletons silently move in on a target with deadly intent.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Rex and Ray roared like Jurassic Park T-Rexes in Metal Gear Solid series. The Novelization of the first game put a cover on the lightbulb of how silly it is (and Snake attributed the Rex roar to Otacon being an Otaku).
    • The Shagohod even gets into the act in Snake Eater, making a lot of noises that simply cannot be explained by metal parts moving around.
      • And then there are the Gekkos, which run around making cow noises in Guns of the Patriots.
    • In their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, REX makes a high-pitched mechanical scraping screech while RAY does a somewhat quieter keening shriek. Gekkos still moo.
  • In City of Heroes, if you're a Controller and happen to have Plant Control in your power set, congratulations! You're the proud owner of roaring man-eating plants and vines.
  • Monster Hunter (PC) has man-eating plants as the first and most common enemy type encountered, and true to the trope they will repeatedly roar, growl and squeal every second they're onscreen.
  • World of Warcraft is a repeat offender. If it attacks you it will make a very large amount of noise, even if it lacks a mouth to roar at you with. Possibly an Acceptable Break From Reality, as one of the functions of the sound is to inform the player that they've just aggroed something.
    • What sound do WoW orcas make when attacking? Humpback whale song.
    • Devilsaurs, the T. Rexpy of WoW, are big sneaky bastards.
  • Red Dead Redemption has wolves, coyotes, and cougars that are always happy to inform you of their presence in the vicinity by barking, howling or roaring.
  • The Witness: When walking around the jungle, you'll hear lots of bird sounds like chirps. Subverted in that, as you'll soon realize, they're actually artificial sounds created by speakers placed around the area.
  • In Uru Live, one can hear screaming pihas on Jalak. This technically makes them (in-universe) birds of New Mexico, and of any other place where people have instances of Jalak.

    Western Animation 
  • The VeggieTales episode "Josh and the Big Wall" contains birdsong and chirping crickets in the middle of the desert. Lampshaded in the commentary.
  • Very evident in the DC Animated Universe:
    • Poison Ivy seems to have an army of impossibly vocal plants. If they've got a flytrap-like mouth, they'll roar or scream. If they've got slithery vines, they'll hiss.
    • Both Batman and Superman fought a robot Stock Large Theropod (tm) on two different occasions. Both 'bots helpfully roared. (And besides that, they acted like real animals with none of the handicaps robotic animals tend to have in Real Life. Ridiculously Animal Robots?)
    • The otherwise eerie Batman Beyond episode where an animate carpet rears up and roars.
  • The bats that flutter across the screen at the start of the opening credits for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! all chitter their little heads off. Disturbed bats generally book it without emitting cries that humans can hear, as they're too busy echolocating so they don't run into one another.
  • Primal (2019) has a lot of creatures roaring or screeching just for the heck of it. Spear himself isn't immune to this, often yelling when he's fighting. In the first episode, for example, a pterosaur trying to go for Spear screeches at nothing before flying away.


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     Films — Animated 
  • The seagulls in Finding Nemo are relatively sedate until there's food involved, at which point a cacophony of "Mine! Mine! Mine!" goes up as they fight over it. As anyone who's interacted with seagulls will attest, this is spot-on for the scavenger birds.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Spy Hard has an agent sneaking into the enemy base in a noisy jungle. As she enters through the back door, the camera pans over to someone making animal sounds while holding a book of wild animal calls. Dinosaurs are included in the noises.
  • In Congo as our intrepid heroes pass through howler monkey territory in the jungle. As their name implies, howler monkeys are on the chatty side. Also a case of Misplaced Wildlife as Howler Monkeys are New World Monkeys, which means that our heroes who are traveling in Darkest Africa, have stumbled upon some Howler Monkeys that are lost by a hemisphere.
  • Due to the sheer over-the-top amount of sounds, likely parodied in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It's almost like they planned for a lengthy sojourn in the forest and gathered all the sounds, but left with one scene simply crammed them all in.
  • George's Indiana Jones fantasy at the start of UHF. If you listen closely, you can hear cows, cats, and dogs among the cacophony.
  • Airplane II: The Sequel includes chirping crickets and peeping frogs in a nighttime establishing shot of Alpha Beta base. Which happens to be on the Moon.
  • In Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane and Young Masbeth, while searching for the woods comes across a eerie patch. Masbeth asks Ichabod what does he hear. When Ichabod mentions that he hears nothing, Masbeth says that's what wrong: the woods should be filled with the sounds of the nocturnal animals.

  • Timeline by Michael Crichton has our protagonists transported to a forest in a medieval setting, they are all shocked as to how quiet the forest really is. In the film adaptation, everything imaginable in the forest makes a loud noise.
  • In Ivory Extraordinaire, an alternate Earth dominated by amphibians is considered creepy because the native tetrapods don't have voices. Ironic, considering how frogs and toads are among the few taxa that can be as noisy as depicted in film but justified because the beasts on Amphibia are more akin to Permian-era labyrinthodonts and the like.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Invoked for the purposes of parody in an "Accidental Archers" sketch, where one of The Men Who Always Sound Tired is tending to a cow, who moos every now and then (provided by Carrie Quinlan just going "moo") so people will know he's outside and tending to a cow. Except when he's rhythmically thumping at wooden objects. Still, it does help one of the Incredibly Posh Men figure out he must be working when he passes by.

    Video Games 
  • Brief aversion in Jurassic Park: The Game, when the Tyrannosaurus rex is shown rather quietly eating a Parasaurolophus in contrast to its constant roaring and growling throughout the rest of the game.

    Western Animation 
  • Cartoon Network ran a spoof starring Yogi Bear, where a director filmed When Bears Attack with a sleepy Yogi and Boo Boo - for instance, Yogi's yawning was shot and played over with the roar of Bowser.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The episode "The Swamp" by and large averts this, save for the occasional call of some kind of swamp creature. And really, not even the racket of a swamp can match Appa's bellowing for sound.
  • Subverted and played straight in an episode of The Lion Guard, which featured a herd of zebras whinnying like horses together with the usual high-pitched "barking" sounds they normally make. While it's possible for zebras to whinny, they sound nothing like a horse.
  • In the 1960 Popeye short "Popeye in the Woods", Popeye can't sleep because of the racket made by the wildlife at night. His companion, Wimpy, sleeps soundly.

    Real Life 
  • Inversion: Contrary to popular belief, fish actually make a lot of sound with a surprising variety. However, the human ear isn't very trained to hear these.
  • Also inverted for crickets and cicadas during the mating season. In summers where you've got multiple species of cicadas up, expect to want earplugs. For good measure, an upside-down or otherwise trapped one can make a definite racket through panicking and hiss like a snake.
  • Go into any wooded area during spring/mating season. Try to take a nap. See how difficult it is.
    • No need for a forest if there are street cats or, god forbid, foxes in your neighborhood. Or even worse, raccoons. They don't make noise often but let two of them get in a fight in your yard or on your roof...
  • If you live in the United States or Canada near a pond, spring and summer are extremely noisy times of the year. Probably the two most recognizable are spring peepers (itty bitty frogs with loud high-pitched calls), which emerge in early spring and bullfrogs in the summer.
  • Coyotes when running down a large prey animal. The majority of the pack forms a semi-circle and chase the prey while yipping and howling. The prey flees from the sound, ultimately heading into an area where a silent coyote is waiting in ambush.
  • Canada geese are known for honking in flight. But if you go near their nest they will HISS like a pissed-off cat.
  • Death's Head Moths can squeak by forcing air out of their bodies when irritated. Yes, you read that correctly. "Angry moth noises" are actually a thing.
  • Horrifyingly subverted in Aokigahara, a wood located at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest is empty of wildlife and the trees are so dense they block the wind, so it is eerily silent... except for the cries of suicidal people at night.
  • Contrary to popular use, not all non-Panthera cats can let out the shrill yowl of Puma concolor (the cougar); the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) actually chirps, for an example. Also of note is that not even all Panthera-genus cats can roar like tigers; leopards (Panthera pardus) make grunting noises, jaguars (Panthera onca) and tigers (Panthera tigris) are both themselves Stock Sound Effects, but neither yowls like a cougar. Lion roaring (Panthera leo) sounds more like moaning than the tiger and jaguar roars the movies would have you think lions had (here's an example).
  • This is one of the main reasons why many people dislike seagulls. If a seagull sees you with food, it will immediately start squawking for its share, which soon attracts every other seagull in the vicinity.
  • Rats, as mentioned above, always seem to squeak in human-audible tones in fiction. There is one Real Life situation in which a rat's ultrasonic clicks, chortles and chitters dip down into frequencies that humans can hear: unfortunately for the rat, that's when it's got ratty laryngitis from a respiratory infection.
  • Even we humans could be considered a major aversion: even when there are no other humans around to communicate with, we'll habitually talk, sing, or hum to ourselves. And that's when we're not chattering away to our pets, our houseplants, our cars, our imaginary friends, our reflections...