Follow TV Tropes


Ominous Visual Glitch

Go To
"Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts in shards, all over the floor."

"Have you ever noticed how much we use signal degradation as a shorthand for existential 'wrongness'? [...] I sometimes wonder what it says about our anxieties as a culture that the easiest way for media to freak us out is to confront us with manifestations of the artificiality of the medium."

Some works intentionally create special effects that resemble real-life glitches. The image can be distorted or it can look like it was shorted out. There can be stripes, lines, little squares, rectangles and other geometrical shapes, grains or pixellated images, often combined with freaky colours. It might be accompanied by sound effects like static sound.

These effects are used to show that something weird, unnatural, or paranormal is going on. It can be used to imply that there is something wrong with the character's mind (for example, they're hallucinating or they are influenced by Subliminal Seduction). It's also frequently used to show A Glitch in the Matrix. When the person trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine realizes that what they see is not real, the image is distorted and torn down.

This trope is rapidly becoming a staple subgenre of horror movies as the technology it's based on is a regular part of modern society. Also a standard feature of Found Footage Films.

Subtrope of Painting the Medium, and very close to Camera Abuse. Related to False Camera Effects. In video games, it may overlap with Interface Screw. Spooky Photographs have glitches as well, but they are present on the paper as opposed to a screen (unless they're digital). Compare Hologram Projection Imperfection. See also Ominous Television.

Exampl... tup-tup—td-td-dzzzzzz €x@mpI€s:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Bleach anime up to a certain point shows fuzzy distortion whenever a character exerts really strong spiritual pressure, though this is less an effect on the screen and more like seeing a heat wave, as this pressure is exerted on everything around the character.
  • In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, cyberpsychosis is visualized as a character's eyes sporadically glitching out and duplicating. In the early stages, only the irises are affected. In the final battles, David, suffering both cyberpsychosis and Unstoppable Rage, is freaking out so hard his entire head is shown vibrating and duplicating.
  • Day Break Illusion has the screen go all staticky and distorted when a daemonia is nearby.
  • In Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works], this happens when the audience sees Ea through Shirou's point of view. It represents Shirou's inability to comprehend the makeup of Ea, which is because it comes from a time before reality existed.
  • The Phantoms in Myriad Colors Phantom World's anime adaptation are typically shrouded by glitchy artifacts. It's stated that humans couldn't see them at all until an accident ten years ago altered humanity's perception; it's likely that said perception isn't quite perfect yet, hence the glitchiness of the Phantoms' appearances.
  • In No Game No Life, towards the end of episode 8 of the anime, appropriately called "Fake End", the screen and sound occasionally glitch out as if an old TV has a wonky reception. It's especially heavy when Sora is supposed to show up during the Ending Theme, which he doesn't. And just before he had been shown to simply cease to exist.
  • In one episode of Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!'s anime adaptation, Souji finds himself trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine in which the various girls are all wildly interested in him. He figures out it's not real after Twirl starts to tie her hair in twintails, at which point everything starts to glitch out.
  • In Space Patrol Luluco, the Blackholian's head distorts the image around it, much like what would happen with an actual black hole.
  • In the anime adaptation of Sword Art Online, when Yui has a panic attack while Kirito and Asuna are looking for her parents, the area around them has a minor visual glitch in addition to giving off a sound like loud television static. This is one sign that she's not a player like Kirito or Asuna, but an artificial intelligence.
  • Played straight in Den-noh Coil, as the city is beta-testing Augmented Reality. Naturally, the children find the edge cases, represented as strange environment and distorted holes in reality. It's eventually revealed that the alpha test put a participant into a coma, and the beta test is layered over top to hide the original system.
  • The Curse Series in The Rising of the Shield Hero is literally fueled by these whenever it's utilized in the anime... for VERY damn good reason.
    d0 Y0u s33k PoWeR?
    DO yOU haT3 3veRYtHiNG?
  • Summer Time Rendering: Thought your picture was still loading in? Nope, both the manga and the anime have pixelated graphical glitches in many scenes taken directly from Shinpei's perspective. Other characters will observe this effect on a shadow if they manage to spot it in the middle of transforming.
  • Undead Unluck: When Billy uses the powers he's copied from other negators, the name of the power is shown, but with an Ominous Visual Glitch.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Many Pokémon fanworks portray Missingno as actually causing the glitches seen in-game. For example, while the player might not really notice tiles being switched around, in-verse it's a profoundly disturbing side-effect of being near an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Stylistic choice in X-Files: Crack!Vid and X-Files: Crack!Vid pt2 by snakey973. These videos have both funny and poignant scenes with audio both from the show and from various movies, TV shows and musical background played for comedy. The glitchy effects are used as transitions between scenes.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku has the ability to dissolve into colorful static not unlike that seen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to become intangible. Any electronics he passes through in this state will short circuit and potentially explode and passing through biological matter results in a serious case of Body Horror for the other thing involved. It isn't pleasant for Izuku either, as his vision swims and is warped into psychedelic colors while in this state, exhausting him and making him more and more nauseous the longer he uses it.
  • My Hero Abridged: Distortions, static, and sound-glitches tend to show up whenever All For One is using his quirks to comunicate long distance. The first time it happens is when he's possessed Stain's corpse, and gives a terrifying "Reason You Suck" Speech to not only the heroes, but the audience as well. It seems to get more pronounced the more pissed off he is.
  • In Infinity Train: Boiling Point, a Passenger's number having one of these is the most telling sign that the Passenger in question is a Static Passenger.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • The character Vanellope Von Schweetz gets pixelated during her glitching fits caused by King Candy rearranging the game's code to make himself the main character instead of her. She also sometimes causes anyone in contact with her to glitch; this is used to create the big reveal that King Candy is actually Turbo.
    • The end title card glitches in a parody of the Pac-Man "Kill Screen". The same is done with the end of the Bit by Bit making-of documentary on the Blu-Ray.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse have the Spider-Heroes not native to Miles Morales' reality undergo painful fits of these as long as they're in the wrong universe. According to Dr. Olivia Octavius, if they're away from home for too long, their cells will degenerate until they atomize out of existence, thus combining this trope with Drama-Preserving Handicap. The city itself also goes under this whenever the Super-Collider is operating, and the effect even extends to the film's opening Vanity Plates.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A very early example can be witnessed in the title sequence of Psycho created by Saul Bass where the title glitches artistically. Watch it here.
  • After Jerry gets magnetized in Be Kind Rewind, the images warps momentarily as if the camera itself was being affected by Jerry.
  • In Fight Club, Tyler shows up in a glitchy Freeze-Frame Bonus for Subliminal Seduction before being officially introduced as a character. Tyler can also Break the Fourth Wall and point out "Cigarette Burns" in the film.
  • In the 2002 American adaptation of The Ring:
    • After someone watches the videotape and is marked for death by Samara, any attempt to take their picture results in their face appearing distorted.
    • The cursed video itself often utilizes ominous static screens as scene transitions.
    • Samara, just after crawling out of the TV screen. Her glitchiness allows her to instantaneously appear right in front of Noah, scaring him.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: After Gideon is near-fatally weakened by Scott and co., his image begins to glitch, switching to different positions for single frames and further distorting his voice to eerie effect.
  • While giving an interview via satellite, the title character S1m0ne begins to pixellate because the computer that's generating her is running low on memory and clock cycles. The effect is attributed to a fault in the satellite feed.
  • The video feed goes staticky and skips occasionally in Tape407, especially when the creatures are nearby. Whether this is due to Camera Abuse, an anomalous effect manifested by the creatures, transmission errors, or damage to the media is unstated. Bizarrely enough, the glitches are more along the lines of film artifacts than digital artifacts.
  • V/H/S and its sequels love this trope. In one story, the monster itself is a glitch, only viewable through a camera.
  • In Triangle, in the scene where the heroine listens to the broken record on the Ghost Ship, the screen jitters in sync with the record needle jumping back and forth. It's not exactly clear though whether it's also experienced In-Universe or is just a shorthand for the film audience.
  • In Alien Abduction (2014), the presence of the aliens causes electronic interference an occasional flicker in the display of Riley's In-Universe Camera. This becomes especially relevant at the end, when the camera flickers just as Riley and Jillian think they have found help.
  • In Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, visual glitches neatly help hide the People in Rubber Suits effect, when an alien is actually shown up close. It's implied (and, in one ending, confirmed) that the aliens have some kind of Psychic Powers that they use to prevent any clear recordings of them.
  • As Michael is filming in The Possession of Michael King, the camera will devolve to static or pixelated images or make sudden jumps in the scene when aspects of the demon come out. Unusual for the trope, the characters note it when reviewing the footage and don't immediately discount it as "camera glitches".
  • In Nerve, the Nerve website occasionally stutters and glitches. While nothing supernatural is going on, it does serve to make the site more ominous and threatening.
  • Censor's ending sees its protagonist seemingly happily reunited with her family, but the quality of the visuals is poor (as if playing from an old VHS tape) and occasional glitches show her parents looking distraught. (The film's poster also uses this aesthetic: the top half looks normal, the bottom half, below a line of static, is discoloured and shows the protagonist holding an axe.)

  • Critical Role: The Mighty Nein—The Nine Eyes of Lucien: The Somnovem is capable of Painting the Medium as they mess with the novel's text, and as the Somnovem Omega Lucien gains this ability too. He shouts at Molly "silence, abomination" and "be silent", and the text is in a different, bold font, several sizes bigger than the rest of the text, surrounded by pixels with a grungy effect.
  • In Book 6 of Kingdom Keepers, Finn notices that the holographic DHI (Disney Host Interactive) copies of a sleeping host can pixellate when seen on a digital camera snapshot, to rather ominous effects.
  • The text of Eden Green contains several glitches, such as a Zalgo-ed 'scratch' when the main character is infected with the alien needle symbiote.
  • Oathbringer, third book of The Stormlight Archive, has an illustrated version. The tower of Urithiru makes Shallan uneasy, and when she tries to sketch her supernaturally-enhanced Photographic Memory of it, it always comes out with warped perspective and strange darkness. The tower turns out to be the lair of an Eldritch Abomination, and the effect ends when they drive the entity away.
  • In Snow Crash, after Da5id receives a full visual dose of Snow Crash (itself named because its Mind Control language resembles a glitch causing a display to show white noise), his Metaverse avatar and voice link begin to deteriorate until he looks like this:
    Instead of Da5id, there is just a jittering cloud of bad digital karma. It's so bright and fast and meaningless that it hurts to look at. It flashes back and forth from color to black and white, and when it's in color, it rolls around the color wheel as though being strafed with high-powered disco lights. And it's not staying within its own body space; hair-thin pixel lines keep shooting off to one side, passing all the way across The Black Sun and out through the wall. It is not so much an organized body as it is a centrifugal cloud of lines and polygons whose center cannot hold, throwing bright bits of body shrapnel all over the room, interfering with people's avatars, flickering and disappearing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title sequence of Falling Skies contains digital artifacts. It symbolizes that it's After the End, so getting clean signals through is difficult.
  • Fringe: When Olivia sees something from "the other side", it flickers and shimmers visually. Usually this indicates a serious problem. In this case, it is the audience theoretically seeing what Olivia sees. (When Olivia herself goes to the other side, she doesn't seem to suffer this. Perhaps it's a skill she learns to turn on and off at will.)
  • The Koz Zone, a 1989 local Chicago tv series by the once and future Svengoolie where he would "break in" to the local station's broadcast and pirate-show an old, crappy film. It would have intentional glitches as though he as breaking into the feed.
  • True to its video game theme, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid loves to throw in some distortions every now and then to the point of Interface Screw. A reoccurring example is at the end of each episode when the screen glitches and turns to static before cutting to a black background with pink "See you Next Game."
    • Parado's corrupting influence on Emu in #23 is underscored by the screen darkening with grainy textures and washed out colors and implied to be a deliberate act of reality warping on his side. The failure to convince his favorite target to kill Kuroto only prompts him to do things the nastier way.
    • When Kuroto flashes a Slasher Smile in #18, the screen glitches to a grainy grayscale close-up of his bared teeth.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: In "Red Baron", the approach of "Chiggy von Richtoffen" is foreshadowed by a glitch on radar screens, the grid becoming wavy for a second.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Future Imperfect": Commander Riker is trapped inside of a Lotus-Eater Machine. Once he realizes the reality is strange and doesn't make sense, he is moved to another "real" world, but the setting has simply changed to a new illusion. The shift between several illusions uses distortion with little squares.
  • The X-Files:
    • In "Duane Barry", the TV at Duane's place goes out and static fills the screen. The room is flooded with light and Duane starts to levitate. There is a flying saucer above his house and he's abducted.
    • In "D.P.O.", Darin Peter Oswald can control lightning and electricity. He changes channels on the TV that his mother is watching, and if she tries to change it back, it gets static. At the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully watch an institutionalized Darin staring at a TV in the room. The camera pans over to show the screen, channels changing. There's a shot of deadpan Darin, then the whole screen gets static, and it goes into credits.
    • In "Wetwired", distortions of the picture implied that a person is under influence of subliminal transmission that triggered the person's worst fears and compelled them to kill.
    • In "Demons", Mulder underwent an extreme psycho-treatment to induce his memories of Samantha's abduction. His "memories" (probably hallucinations) were showed in freaky colours with distorted people, and the picture is intentionally grainy.
    • "Kill Switch": Mulder is trapped in a virtual reality simulator. When he realizes that it's not real, the reality from his perspective starts to short out. He sees the glitches and "Scully" dissolves into an image of animated person.
  • Person of Interest:
    • The Machine has "problems" in season 2, which show themselves as visual glitches.
    • As of season 3, Root's appearance in the opening credits is glitchy, with color fluctuations and rectangular visual distortions appearing.
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah references this while talking about Ted Cruz's refusal to endorse Trump at the 2016 Republican Convention. The audience really should've known something was going on when the big screen started flickering mid-speech.
    Trevor: I've watched horror movies, people! When you see screens flickering, you get your ass outta the house!
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Extremis", the effect is used for the buildup to The Reveal, that the world we see in the episode is a computer simulation, and that the episode itself is a recording/retelling by the simulation!Doctor to the real Doctor.
    • In "The Lie of the Land", it's used to signify the mind-control the Monks use to keep the population under wraps.
  • Supernatural season 3 episode "Ghostfacers": The episode is a parody of ghost hunting reality tv show and much of the footage is recorded through handheld cameras. The feed glitches just before ghost echoes appear or a supernatural event happens.

  • In the music video for "Timelessness" by, the camera recording begins to go crazy after the protagonist drinks a glass full of an unknown liquid; different scenes have their p-frames removed, causing heads and scenery to spontaneously start to appear from the walls or people's bodies, along with large amounts of chromatic aberration in the otherwise grayscale recording.
  • Played for Laughs in the music video for "Thinking Machine" by They Might Be Giants, where the pixel art animation gets more and more glitchy as Flansburgh's lyrics get more nonsensical.
  • LOONA's JinSoul performed a solo song, "Singing In The Rain", the music video of which is filled with odd visual distortions, which obscure her and only her from view. Judging from Cinema Theories (extra content only available at private showings), this may be a power of hers.
  • The video for Hawkwind's Sonic Attack, voiced by guest lead shouter BRIAN BLESSED, does this a lot, making the presentation suggestive of a government Public Service Announcement film which is either being broadcast on failing transmitters, or else being actively jammed by the unspecified enemy spreading the sonic assault. It adds to the sense of malevolence and menace which runs through the piece.
  • Reboot Me uses this a lot, due to the setting and antagonist. In fact, it'd be easier to count the songs that avert both this trope and the auditory equivalent.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Ann's dream at the beginning of the game has a distorted effect before she wakes up. Later, whenever Ann activates her Super Mode, the screen displays glitched effects until the mode wears off.
  • Fez has several glitchy elements to represent the world coming apart.
  • Saints Row IV has The Boss realized where they are in after they found the police officer admonishing them for swearing, glitching. Earlier on The Boss awakened in a strange 50s sitcom after being defeated by Zinyak.
  • In some Kingdom Hearts games, simulations would cause distortions to show something was going on. Re Coded even had the main character deal with glitches.
  • Glitches in reality become a reocurring theme in Super Lesbian Animal RPG, starting from the first dungeon onwards. Pretty much anything that is Javis's handiwork involves some degree of reality corrupting glitchiness.
  • The spinning squares in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess invoke this kind of feel. And they mostly show up when the Twilight Realm is growing or shrinking.
  • Metroid Prime
    • The game has the visor fade to noise as you get close to the radiating Phazon, going out completely when you get hit by some attacks.
    • The second game introduces Rezbits, a mechanical enemy that can infect Samus' suit with a virus, causing her visor to become staticky, the framerate to slow to a crawl and the HUD to display garbage text until the player reboots Samus' suit.
  • Taking damage, killing civilians, or trying to go into the wrong places in the Assassin's Creed game series is represented by white lines appearing and disappearing all over the screen, representing Desmond's ancestor's avatar being out of sync with the original's memories. For Altair, the "taking damage" clause happens whenever he gets hit, implying that he never took a single hit throughout his life; he was just that good. Later playable characters have desynch glitches only appear as a form of Critical Annoyance.
  • A recurring trope in Crysis, where high Ceph activity sometimes makes Nomad's HUD fade blue and go staticky.
  • Happens sometimes in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, especially near the beginning and end of the game, though no attention is ever called to them. This is because the game world is a simulation.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! is free of glitches until Sayori commits suicide. Suddenly the music distorts in tandem with the screen bugging out. The game then seemingly resets and all hell breaks loose as the game's true nature as a horror game is revealed. Sayori's sprite in the main menu is replaced by a glitched amalgamation of the other 3 girls', the "New Game" button is reduced to gibberish, and upon starting the game again, Sayori's (or what used to be Sayori's) name is unreadable. After briefly trying (and failing) to proceed without her, the game resets again, this time with Sayori missing from the game's plot entirely. Monika ends up inviting the protagonist to the club in Sayori's place, and it only gets From Bad to Worse, and it becomes more clear that The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • In the Wolf Hall version of Magical Diary, Musette starts displaying visual glitches in her sprite as she discovers, and synchronises with, the old tape recording that originally container her spirit.
  • Nanashi no Game: This, in combination with Ominous Audio Glitches, is used as foreshadowing in the Game Within a Game. As the days progress and the curse worsens, so do the glitches.
  • Super Meat Boy has Glitch Levels, which are unlocked by rescuing a glitchy Bandage Girl. The levels themselves are similar to Retro Levels, except with scrambled text and sprites.
  • Towards the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, strange visual glitches start plaguing Adam at certain points in the game. It is eventually revealed that his control chip is faulty and needs to be replaced. Except that's a lie: his and other aug's chips are being remotely sabotaged to force them to replace them with actual faulty chips that can be manipulated by the Illuminati at whim. If you choose to do the chip-replacing sidequest, you gain respite from annoying glitches but make the penultimate boss fight of the game ten times harder—because your augmentations are shut down just before he attacks—and visual glitches become the least of your concerns.
  • Metal Gear:
    • A lot of the stranger effects in the final stages of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty are this - the level name text changing to read nonsense, the Pause menu map showing an aspidochelone, a weird video of a woman playing in the Radar screen, arguably even strange platform of the final level that's covered in Tron Lines and makes strange hexagon glitches when hit. And of course, the infamous Fission Mailed screen.
    • When Snake is low in health in Metal Gear Solid 4, the screen begins to judder with static and digital artefacts when he's hit. Occasionally images of puppet strings attached to him glitch in appearance as he dies.
  • Crypt Worlds uses glitches with complete awareness, in a successful attempt to make the game... Weirder.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has a level designed around glitchy effects. It's a white and black, static-filled sword fighting simulation, that randomly deletes parts of the floor and causes cracks in the wall, and at the end it bursts into flames. It's lampshaded by Tank.
    Tank: Mouse's been messing around in the code again.
  • Half-Life 2: A recycled, and rather disturbing pre-release image of the G-Man appears between Dr. Breen's broadcasts. First on a malfunctioning screen in the canals, then on the monitor in City 17 while the Rebels are tearing it down. Apparently, they don't see him, although one of them did hear some weird music in his appearance before that.
  • Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment/Hollow Fragment: Near the end of the Aincrad arc, Heathcliff promises to release Kirito and the other players trapped in SAO if he can beat him in a duel. That's what happens in the anime, but in this game, bright yellow visual glitches appear during their duel. One glitch freezes Heathcliff in place, letting Kirito land the finishing blow...but the glitches now plaguing SAO keep all of the players trapped inside. More glitches begin to emerge soon after, such as item corruption, loss of skills, and the lower floors becoming inaccessible from the 75th floor onward.
  • Indie game Calendula has this visual effect as its core gameplay mechanic. It essentially consists of a series of creepy and bizarre glitches that you have to fix by fiddling around with the game's menu settings.
  • Remember Me could also be relabelled Glitch: The Game. Augmented Reality is ubiquitous in the game world and, particularly in the slums, very glitch-prone. On a more personal level, the damage is only partially resultant from kicks and punches. The main part of it is enemies trying to hack your neural implants (by kicking and punching) which results in the player's screen glitching. The soundtrack continues this theme on an auditory level.
  • In Resident Evil: Revelations 2, the Glasps cause the screen to get blurry and lose color. See here for an example.
  • Mega Pony's Very Definitely Final Dungeon has scrambled graphics and other weird intentional glitches thanks to Discord.
  • Shadow Bonnie, from Five Nights at Freddy's 3. Moving him causes his body to glitch out in weird ways, and the stage he's in occasionally glitches into a previous minigame stage, or at a purple box. However, he actually helps a child's spirit move on.
  • In FNAF fangame Fredbear and Friends, right after the game's "survive until 6 AM" section, the screen does the usual "clock switches to six while children laugh" routine. Throughout, however, the clock glitches back to 12 AM several times to let you know that this time, surviving until sunrise doesn't mean you're out of danger.
  • The Killer Instinct remake introduces Hisako, who constantly leaves behind discolored afterimages in her wake.
  • Used as a game mechanic in SOMA, causing the cybernetic enemy monsters to make your vision pixellate from their EMP-generating vicinity. Justified, since you're actually a half-dead person in a suit, with a cortex chip and cameras jammed into its spinal cord. And there's also the picture of Catherine Chun in the main menu that destabilizes depending on your progress. Fortunately, it fully reforms at the end.
  • In The Floor is Jelly, the Disc-One Final Dungeon gradually becomes corrupted with flashing glitch blocks as you make progress, and touching them kills your character in the same way as the game's regular spikes do. The Very Definitely Final Dungeon's background also glitches frequently.
  • In the Super Mario World ROM Hack 'the, the scenery becomes heavily glitched when Ghost Peach begins chasing you. If you get away, the graphics in the cave afterwards is almost entirely garbled.
  • Pony Island: All over the place, and they only get worse as you delete CORE files. The most common one is the CRT De-calibration of Red and Blue, often used by Lucifer and to indicate Hack Portals.
  • Numerous glitches, including frame skipping, screen tearing, and color distortion, are used in Oxenfree whenever the Electromagnetic Ghosts appear. This is notable since they're very reminiscent of the VHS effects, despite taking place in the modern day.
  • This happens in Cassette Beasts whenever the player is in the vicinity of an Archangel, with the screen flickering and distorting. There's an option in the settings to disable it.
  • Axiom Verge calls the world glitching out "the Breach" and uses it as a barrier to progress. Trace can also glitch out enemies (or fix barrier glitches) with a setting on his gun, and each save file has randomized access points to "glitch worlds", extra areas with weird, broken tiles and unique weapons.
  • In the original .hack// games, static fills the screen whenever Skeith is around. Static also intermittently appears in glitched fields and dungeons, as well as when Data Drain backfires and causes negative effects.
  • The Stanley Parable has misaligned textures and various prop objects appearing in inappropriate places, set at the wrong angle, clipping through each other, or all of the above combined when the game world begins to fall apart after the player breaks character blatantly enough that the Narrator notices. The office eventually becomes impassable from glitched-out doors and piled-up models. A similar but less elaborate effect appears in the demo.
  • In Friday the 13th: The Game, the counsellors will see the screen distort if Jason uses his Villain Teleportation near them.
  • In Fairune, the Grave/Graveyard has a staticky filter over it. Also happens with the final boss after beating it. In 2, the first Layla you meet glitches out a bit before disappearing like a hologram once you've found and inserted all the Storage Devices.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Infinite from Sonic Forces constantly has a glitchy, pixelated particle effect around him, as do the constructs he summons. Getting hit by one of his cube-attacks causes the screen to turn red and the environment to stutter and glitch.
    • Sage from Sonic Frontiers is also accompanied by glitchy effects, with most of them covering half her body, as an effect of being an Artificial Intelligence that interacted with the technology of the Ancients. Notably, whenever she enters a cutscene, the camera glitches out momentarily.
  • Yume Nikki has an event in the 8-bit dungeon in which going to a particular deep-floor dead-end and interacting with a specific tile will cause an empty dialogue box to show up. Repeatedly interacting with the tile will gradually garble the graphics, until the game then lets off a loud buzzing noise and blacks out, in a manner not unlike cartridge-based games with connector problems. And then Madotsuki wakes up, as if she pinched herself (the usual way of waking up).
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Glitch-type weapons subvert this with beneficial visual glitches that accompany random special effects such as increased damage plus Knockback, uncontrollably rapid fire, or Spread Shot.
  • Undertale deliberately quits itself after a major plot twist. When opened up again, the game's normal intro sequence will start to play, but after a few seconds the video and audio glitch out like a broken DVD.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum uses glitches for the final Scarecrow sequence, which simulates the game glitching up and crashing, and then restarting with Batman and the Joker's rolls reversed.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Game Mod Mental Omega, the loading screen is greatly glitched out, the location is uncertain and a unique ominous soundtrack is played instead of the regular mission briefing music. Considering the previous mission ended with the entire Soviet occupation in Stalington, including the player character, being mind-controlled, it's very fitting.
  • Sdorica is a fairly straightforward fantasy game where your Player Character watches events happening around the world through a magical book, a thousand years after the hero Vendacti slew the dragon Sdorica. And then in Chapter 16 your assistant's dialogue breaks down into gibberish and spits out a line of programming code: Error/h402:V₤nDÄc₮Îs'_DIALOG_NOT_TRUE, followed by a picture of the assistant, in armor, standing on a red field.
  • In The Joy of Creation: Reborn, finishing the third level, Office, by surviving until 6AM, Freddy will cut the lights and jump you anyway. The scene then shows the clock speeding towards 6AM before glitching back to 12AM, over and over and over again...
  • Arcaea in two of its song unlock Scripted Events:
    • In the Vicious Labyrinth DLC pack, fulfilling certain requirements when you reach a certain point in "Axium Crisis" causes the background image to break up, red lines to appear on the screen, and the playfield to shift around in angles. After a few seconds of the game appearing to malfunction, the shutters close to introduce the pack's "boss" song, "Grievous Lady".
    • For Luminous Sky, meeting the requirements at the end of "Ether Strike" causes the track to keep going past where it's supposed to end while the background image starts to warp. After several seconds, it does the same effect above before transitioning into the pack's boss song, "Fracture Ray".
  • The plot of Old School Musical is based around glitches corrupting various worlds, and the levels and cutscenes frequently show glitchy effects.
  • In OneShot, the glitchy squares that spontaneously appear out of thin air are capable of destroying structures and robots beyond repair. In the Solstice playthrough, Niko traveling outside the bounds of the world will cause the Entity to break down and spawn these squares at an extremely rapid pace, swallowing up large chunks of the ground as well as several of the characters who try to help Niko to safety during the whole ordeal.
  • The maimai song "QZKago Requiem" has one part where the video abruptly glitches out and fast forward before turning completely blue. It then shows footage of a maimai GreeN results screen...which also seizes up, with the video returning to normal afterweards.
  • When The Darkness Comes: Of a sort. As the game progressively gets scarier, more things will start to look glitched. A notable example is during a "conversation" game- the button with negative answers is glitched and unusable, and gets worse each round.
  • Do It For Me: Your standard malignant static happens every now and again, and the peaceful Sugar Bowl will have textures and objects resembling a school hallway. The more you go in, the more it takes over. This represents the fact that the Sugar Bowl is a delusion of the protagonist who is in his school, and if you choose, is killing his fellow students.
  • In Phigros Chapter 5, unlocking the "boss" song leads to an event where upon the song being presented, a series of error messages that appear to be in-universe show up, the video garbles, and the game cuts out to a fake "Fatal Error" screen and your device appears to reboot. After about 25 seconds of black screen, the song starts.
  • Rhythm Doctor: In Stage 1-X "Battleworn Imsoniac", the game tries to screw up your perfect gaming by glitching both the interface and the music, starting in the middle of the gameplay.
  • Manifold Garden: Anything surrounding a dark cube gets a slight distortion effect.
  • In Haven (2020), screen tearing and jitters herald the arrival of the Beruberu.
  • Prey (2017) has a subtle one. During Morgan Yu's helicopter flight to the Transtar test centre, the view of San Francisco Bay briefly window glitches out to plain blue. Shortly afterwards is is revealed that the helicopter is a simulator, the windows are screens, and Morgan is not in San Francisco...
  • WarioWare: Get It Together has these caused by bugs made from Wario's shoddy programming in the Story Mode, most prominently in the cutscene leading up to the final level.
  • They're everywhere in Andy's Apple Farm. Most often, they come in the form of sudden skips in the dialogue and video where it just cuts to a black frame for a moment. Other times, the game itself will break down, duplicate characters, or cut too quickly.
  • In the final part of the Distant Future chapter of Live A Live, the protagonist Cube; a robot, gets the idea to fight the malfunctioning Mother Computer OD-10 through the Captain Square arcade machine in the Break Room. After Darthe manages to patch the game to OD-10, the screen suddenly violently distorts and then the Captain Square title boots up, only to stop partway and cut to a black screen with OD-10 saying "DIE,CHILD,DIE".
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla:
    • An Animus Data rift is signaled by local scenery glitching out, which can be seen from miles off, along with an accompanying droning sound.
    • On Skye, a Vault occupied by an Apple defending itself has a hologram of a rock wall barring the way, but it keeps flickering. Eivor doesn't notice it, but Kassandra does.
  • When entering secret areas in Lunistice (which are unlocked after obtaining all four letters in an act as Hana), the picture will become noticeably more distorted and glitchy. This effect even persists in the results screen after collecting the key/file in these secret areas, where the usual music is also replaced with an ominous droning noise.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck uses its digital medium to full effect, Painting It in many ways including visual glitches.
    • The first is a non-sinister example: Dave Strider, author of the deliberately awful in-universe comic Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, finds a way to manifest objects from SBAHJ in real life, complete with low resolution and .jpeg artefacts.
    • Another version of Dave does visual glitches on an industrial scale: his SBAHJ-ified products are so low-quality and cheap that the cost of manufacturing them is negative. He exploits this glitch to become wealthy.
    • Part 2 of Homestuck is recursively-rendered in-universe as a game disc. The disc gets a nasty scratch, resulting in visual glitches reminiscent of an unreadable DVD. This leads to Doc Scratch taking over the narration while he fixes the disc.
    • Homestuck part 3 shows up as a game cartridge and gets clogged with "special stardust", entire lands get obscured by visual static, scenes get skipped over because they're "unplayable," and some text is rendered illegible. These glitches happen in-universe, and some of the the protagonists (usually in contact through a chat program) can't reach or don't understand each other.
    • SBURB, The Video Game Within A Comic central to Homestuck, seems to have the power to cause glitches to enforce its own "pacing," rendering things illegible to the players until they reach higher levels. It is suggested the "Void" players in the game's Character Class System are meant to wield this power themselves, gaining the ability to conceal, alter or destroy information.
  • Questionable Content has Hannelore and the space station A.I. staying up all night tracking a weather pattern. The station burned out a few processor banks trying to trace it back, and its holographic avatar displays this.
  • The aptly named Glitchmaster from Cucumber Quest causes this effect whenever she appears in the comic. Everything around her starts to become pixelated and causes a few areas to become a glitched-up mess. It's how you know that the "Nightmare Knight" that appears in the second interlude isn't actually the real Nightmare Knight.
  • Nebula: There's always some visual glitch-like distortion over the rest of the panel whenever Black Hole speaks. Taken even further when Ceres appears and the entire background changes to glitchy pink and blue spirals while Ceres starts to slowly and painfully cause the planets to break into pieces.
  • Rusty and Co. has an In-Universe example with a Crystal Ball that glitches the space around it as a side effect of its tremendous magic power.
    Stabs: Looks like some kind of... artifact.note 
  • Leif & Thorn: Whenever a dialogue bubble includes the Woman In Black's name or identifying information, that part gets glitched/pixelated until it's unreadable.

    Web Videos 
  • When "The Entity" was nearing in Atop the Fourth Wall, it was causing glitches in the show.
  • In The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, Jane claims she has an old and broken camera. The glitches it creates in episode 13 look very spooky. Combined with ominous shadows and strange noises, her vlog very effectively captures gloomy elements of the original Gothic novel.
  • Charlotte In Multilink World: In S1 E10, titled "Meet Lois", the main antagonist, Regina, is introduced through a strange visual glitch that occurs near the end of the episode.
  • Carmilla the Series:
    • In the Christmas Special, this is how the creepy owner of the Styrian bakeshop, a Hansel and Gretel-type cannibal witch, is introduced: an image of her starts flickering on Laura's laptop before she properly makes her entrance (and at which point the cinematography shifts to a more traditional, "disembodied" camera angle).
    • In Season 2, Carmilla's sister Mattie is capable of inflicting a camera distortion with her bloodcurdling screeches.
  • The Cream Heroes series Kittisaurus Villains starts using this as spacetime starts to break down. The screen flashes negative as Toto (playing a glitched Dodo) comes onto the screen. When Dodo starts coming and going at odds angles as spacetime breaks down further, the cats realize something is very, very wrong.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, visual static and screen lines accompany the use of some of Alastor's powers, sometimes across the entire screen, sometimes confined to his eyes or immediate vicinity. These are accompanied by audible static as well, as befits his Radio Voice.
  • In Marble Hornets, static, visual tear and other distortions occur whenever The Operator is around. Early in the series, Masky used to cause a similar distortion, and characters suffering from "Slendersickness" can also distort the video. Other vlogs from The Slender Man Mythos also use similar techniques to indicate paranormal activity.
  • Meta Runner: In Episode 6 when an Ultra Jump Mania cartridge reacts poorly to having two Theos, as well as the cartridge with the missing Theo whenever it tries to boot up.
  • Welcome To Sanditon has The Friendly Ghost of Sanditon. It's a fan-submitted creation but part of the show's official feed due to extensive Audience Participation. The ghost's apparition is shown as Clara Breton's image gradually changing into a classic bed sheet ghost.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd once had to deal with the Game Graphic Glitch Gremlin, who likes causing these, and ultimately breaks out to glitch the real world.
  • In one Vinesauce stream, Vinny is reviewing a "Plug & Plague" all the while the captured audio comes with a low omnious hum, and sometimes the screen darkens or displays the wrong colors. He was already mildly horrified by the system's behavior for most of it, but the moment the pizza game decides he's done mocking it, it just gives him (and the audience) one hell of a scary by shifting to a demonic red and humming louder than ever. The clip of the moment has been justifiably named "CURSED PIZZA"
  • These glitches are very common in Chainsawsuit's LOCAL58 series, as the videos are meant to emulate old VHS tapes and dashboard camera footage. For example, the PSA in Contingency randomly speeds up and slows down, with accompanying audio distortion.
  • In a particular scene in episode 4 of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, after Red Guy touches Colin, it harshly launches the puppets into its virtual world, signaled by a disturbing sequence containing visuals of them being distorted and glitched to hell and back.
  • CollegeHumor: Glitches are part of Brennan's outro when he pleads viewers to keep watching more CH videos, otherwise he will vanish. His image starts to have glitches, gets pixelated and he gradually disappears while he screams.
    Brennan: Hey guys, it's Brennan from CollegeHumor. Click here to subscribe. Click here for more fun stuff. And please keep watching, because if you stop watching, I start to vanish. Do you get it? I'm not really real. I'm just a thing in your screen. Ahg! DON'T FORGET MEEE!
  • Backwards Songs With Luke: There's a creepy moment of the film-reel skipping in "I Need Your Help To Find The Illuminati".
  • Common in "Hi I'm Mary Mary", especially when monsters are nearby, although given the fact that the house the series takes place in is itself supernatural, some videos are mostly, if not entirely, glitched out.
  • Madness Combat:
    • Tricky in general is constanly shaking starting from Depredation as if he was glitching.
    • In Depredation, the fight between Hank and Jebus in interrupted by the screen glitching and Tricky coming out of the ground.
    • All over the place in An Experiment once Scrapeface is separated from his hands. He often hovers along in a straight line, the character model itself eerily motionless like an animation bug, while other times he and others near him get horrifically distorted.

    Western Animation 
  • The CGI episode of Adventure Time, "A Glitch is a Glitch", has Ice King installing a virus on the universe's motherboard, causing everything to glitch uncontrollably.
  • BoJack Horseman: In "Time's Arrow", as we dive into Beatrice's dementia-ridden mind, there is the following: the flashbacks jump randomly from one time to another, people's faces are scribbled out, things randomly glitch into and out of existence, pictures bleed over one another, and the letters in words sometimes switch places.
  • Glitch Techs: Glitches tend to do this, revealing their pixelized nature.
  • This is the calling card of Pibby's antagonist, an Eldritch Abomination that appears as a blob of visual glitches and moves at a significantly lower frame rate than anything else in the trailer. All of the characters it assimilates are also affected, their facial features becoming distorted by artifacting in an unnerving fashion.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In the episode "Rose's Room", Steven ends up trapped in his mother's room in the Gem Temple and appears to escape, but the Beach City he finds himself in is nearly deserted and increasingly odd.
      • Steven finds Frybo (who was supposedly destroyed in the episode of the same name) working at Beach Citywalk Fries, and he offers Steven a box of fry bits. Before Steven even picks it up, Frybo puts another, identical basket in the spot the first one was still occupying. It even looks like an animation error with the way the second basket overlaps the first.
      • After Steven figures out he never left the room and that the Beach City he's in is a simulation, the world around him starts to disintegrate.
    • The Gem Cluster from "Keeping it Together" glitched ominously while forming. First, it made four different silhouettes, all screaming in horror and agony. Then it glitched and formed what looks like a giant clenched fist. As the fist-shape unfurls, it glitches again, then takes on its final form as a hand-shape with four eyes in the "palm" and several mismatched limbs for fingers.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • The episode "The Signal" starts with a lot of video stutter, freezing, and jumps around. They gradually ramp up to the point where they're not even visual, but actually causes characters to randomly teleport around.
    • The character Rob has a permanently "glitchy" appearance since being brought back from the Void.
  • On the fourth week of The Forge, the previews for each show were now nothing but a black background with a "signal loss" effect and a low, buzzing drone.
  • In War Planets, the Beast Planet's commander, Blokk, has a tendency for his skeletal face to begin visibly vibrating as static blurs across the image, creating a very freakish sight. It's originally presented as something akin to a nervous tic, but later implied to be more something he does deliberately.


Video Example(s):


Weather Service

A battle for control over the Local 58 station and the Emergency Alert System is taking place, with the second party attempting to alter the desperate warnings given out by the EAS with ominous amounts of static when merely changing the text doesn't seem to be working on its own. At the same time, the EAS staff try to wrestle back control and reiterate important instructions about the threat. This... doesn't end well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / OminousVisualGlitch

Media sources: