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Noisy Robots

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"Woah! That's cheating, sneaking up. Do you have your legs on silent?"
The Tenth Doctor to Cybermen, Doctor Who, "The Next Doctor"

This is a Sound FX trope relating to any robot, Cyborg, Mechanical Lifeform or Powered Armor that makes mechanical creaking sounds when they move around. Most Real Life robots tend to make loud snaps and hissing noises due to the hydraulics or compressed air they use for movement and creaking noises mean that somebody has to pick up the oilcan stat unless they fancy replacing components. In the case of dangerous robots in fiction, it ramps up the tension, but also makes it easier for the protagonists to run or hide.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Gundam franchise has a very specific set of sounds for nearly every move a Mobile Suit makes.
  • Chachamaru in the Negima!? second series had robotic noises added to accompany her movements.
  • While the Combat Cyborgs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS are normally silent, body parts that have been damaged beyond a certain point will emit mechanical whirring sounds when they move, as shown in the hospital scene after the massive terrorist attack by Jail.
  • Dorothy from The Big O makes very smooth mechanical sounds when she moves Depending on the Episode

    Fan Works 
  • Friendship is Witchcraft features in episode 4 a discussion about robots. Episode 5 focuses on one, and her servos could use some maintenance. Not that anyone cares.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Aliens, the powerloader used by Ripley makes satisfying hydraulic whirrs and clomps as it moves around.
  • Bicentennial Man: All NDR-114 robots make whirring noises whenever their "gears" move, even small motions like tilting their head or raising their hand are accompanied by a faint buzzing sound. If they turn themselves into Deceptively Human Robots, replacing their machinery, the sounds go away.
  • Ex Machina: Unlike the clanking, whirring robots usually represented by this trope, Ava makes a rather smooth buzzing sound when she makes any significant movement, and she makes no noise at all with small movements. Even further, she and her "sisters" can cover up the noise when covered up by a sheath of false skin. That actually becomes part of a plot point.
  • Most of the machines in Robot and Frank make extraneous noises while moving.
  • Short Circuit: Johnny 5 makes all kinds of noise when he moves around, but it's natural, since he's animatronic.
  • Star Kid: Spencer makes note of how noisy the suit is when attempting to sneak around his house late at night while wearing the cyber-suit.
  • Star Wars: Most civilian droids making odd pneumatic whining sounds whenever they move and military droids that have an inexplicable clanking sound accompany their every step, even while walking on grass.
  • Terminator Salvation: All of the Machines are noisy, with varying degrees of heavy electronic-metal creaking mix from the T-600 to the gigantic Harvester.

  • In the Star Challenge books 2-Tor, your robotic companion, follows this trope to a T. The thing is very often described not only beeping or clicking, but also with flashing lights (at least it moves silently, since it hovers.)


    Live-Action TV 
  • Jimmy the Robot of The Aquabats! Super Show! tends to whir with most of his movements. He also makes a Mac startup noise when rebooting, according to an episode of the Super Kickstarter miniseries.
  • The bomb disposal robots in Bomb Patrol Afghanistan are noisier than you would expect of a military grade machine. Then again, it is designed to be remotely operated an possibly make heroic sacrifices so the humans won't have to get up close and personal with IEDs.
  • The Cybermen in Doctor Who have their movements accompanied by hydraulic hisses and clunks. Lampshaded in "The Next Doctor" when they somehow manage to sneak up on the Doctor and he asks them if they've "got their legs on 'silent'".
  • In Doom Patrol (2019), Cliff a.k.a. "Robotman" has a bulky metal body that whirs with even the smallest movement, in contrast to Cyborg's much more elegant mechanical parts that are mostly silent.
  • In Star Trek, we have Borg drones that make mechanical and electrical noise when moving, or assimilating.
  • RoboCop in RoboCop: The Series. When walking, he only makes stepping thumps, but moving anything else makes mechanical noises.
  • Westworld: Dr Ford is introduced talking to an early model android that's stored in the basement. Unlike the flawless cyborg models currently being used, it moves with jerky, whirring movements.

  • The robots of Steam Powered Giraffe let out occasional hydraulic hisses and whirrs, particularly when they start up or power down.

  • Even though the Mixels are all cyborg-esque in design, the only ones to make these noises are the steampunk-themed Klinkers, who creak with metal and make hydraulic hisses when they move.

    Video Games 
  • Most robotic constructs in World of Warcraft are rather clanky. Justified because most of them are hostile or potentially attackable NPCs, and all NPCs have a combat noise. Robots are just noisier than most.
  • There are creaking/squeaking robot enemies in the video games Banjo-Kazooie and/or Banjo-Tooie.
  • The Arachnotrons, Spider Mastermind and the Cyberdemon from Doom make a hell of a noise when they walk around on their metal legs.
  • Tekken's Jack-type cyborgs make a satisfying crashing noise when knocked over, although they're quiet when moving.
  • The Elder Scrolls: The various Dwemer Mecha-Mooks (known as "Animunculi" in the lore), as seen in Morrowind and Skyrim, make "clanky" metal-on-stone or metal-on-metal sounds as they move. Even when still, they'll make noise by releasing steam.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance: Zanber Head makes satisfying pneumatic noises every time it performs a Final Crash.
  • The various Robot Mercenaries of Grey Mann's army in Team Fortress 2's Mann Vs. Machine mode clatter, sputter, and clank as they move around. Most obvious in the trailer video but they're still fairly noisy in the game. This is masked somewhat by their tendency to babble constantly.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's features such iconic sounds like "SKREEEE!", "REARGHHHH!", "HISSSSGRH!", "SGROURGHHH!", "SCREEERGH!" and "GRAAAAAAH!" Otherwise, it's rather downplayed. While the animatronics do make other noises as they stalk you through the nights (such as Freddy's laughter and the Puppet playing "Pop Goes the Weasel"), they can also be quite sneaky as well.
    • This is your main form of defense in the fourth game; with no camera system, you'll have to rely on audio cues to know when the killer animatronics are at your door. Which is unfortunate, because, well...
  • Warcraft III: Goblin Shredders (huge mecha used for rapid harvesting of lumber, sometimes used against squishier targets) are so noisy even their unit responses consist of nothing but metallic grinding and hydraulic noises (with the occasional giggle from the pilot).
  • Zigzagged in Detroit: Become Human. The first trailer features Kara walking out into the city while her joints make faint mechanical noises as she moves. In the real game, androids don't make any noise you wouldn't expect from a human moving. Most of their android-specific abilities (interfacing, analyzing an object, etc.) do cause mechanical whirrs and clicks, though it's unclear if anyone other than the android(s) performing the action can hear it. If an android is broken down to the point of imminent shutdown, as seen with Markus if he's wounded in Battle for Detroit, their "breathing" as well as their speech will be interspersed with static.
  • Corpus proxies in Warframe not only make clanking sounds as they move around or hum as they hover, they also make clearly synthetic noises that serve no apparent purpose other than to alert potential intruders to their presence.
  • Most of the robots in the Fallout series make a fair bit of noise when they're getting about, from the rattling clank of a Protectron to the grinding of a Sentry Bot's tracks. The fact that the vast majority probably haven't been serviced for about two hundred years doesn't help. Lampshaded thus by Ada in the Automatron DLC:
    I must apologize for the odd noises I'm currently emitting... a consequence of being mechanical in nature.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Transformers, you sometimes (different series are different on this, and many things) hear sounds as the robots move. Transformers: Animated in particular has fun with it, with high-pitched whirring noises that say 'high tech' for most of them, but the old geezer of a medic, Ratchet, makes much creakier noises.
  • Subverted in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Wedding": we Flash Forward to the far future (2010) and see what we think are a group of robots clanking by, but it's really just several college kids going to The Wizard of Oz auditions in Tin Man costumes.

    Real Life 
  • Drones are quite noisy with their rotors buzzing. It can get quite annoying, especially indoors.
  • Many home appliances are also robots. Washing machines certainly make a lot of noise, don't they.