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Recognizable by Sound

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A lot of people have great recognition abilities, which means that they are able to recognize the sounds of various items or even the tone of the voice of their friends. This can even come in handy when a character is separated from his friend and when he hears the voice of his friend, he will say "I know that voice!" The result will prove victorious in the end afterwards.

Compare Signature Sound Effect and Signature Roar. Sound-Coded for Your Convenience is for when the sound is recognized out-of-universe by the audience.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Crossplay Love: Otaku x Punk: Hana recognizes Shuumei as having Mei's voice, but she's so loopy from her fever that she doesn't notice he looks nothing like Mei at the moment.
  • In Darker than Black, Hei, brain-churned by a telepath snaps back when he hears Yin's voice. Awww...
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, in the Virtual World arc, Noah plays Serenity's screams into the tunnel where the rest of the gang are. Joey instantly recognizes it.

    Comic Books 
  • BIONICLE: In the Hordika arc, Toa Nuju speaks to his companion Kualus about his old friend Ehrye. Just then, he hears Ehrye's voice calling for help. Kualus warns him not to follow it, but Nuju doesn't care. Sure enough, the source of the voice turned out to be from an Oohnorak waiting in ambush, having read Nuju's mind and then started mimicking Ehyre's voice.
  • Averted in one Spirou and Fantasio story: Spirou, while lost in the jungle, overhears the very distinctive cry of the Marsupilami (despite being continents apart), but discovers it's an entirely different creature.
  • In Superboy (1994), Guardians Of Metropolis and Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Guardian can generally tell if the Newsboy Legion are about by listening for their "pet" Angry Charlie's signature GROIK vocalization.
  • Damian has a good ear for voices. After only meeting Tim briefly before (and setting off an explosion during that brief meeting), he's able to recognize Tim's voice from a single short sentence when Damian breaks into the Batcave in the Robin. Damian can also mimic voices incredibly well.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Steve Trevor can recognize Diana by voice alone, but will not call out an identifying name until he's got enough context to know what identity he should be using.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The Big-Lipped Alligator from Don Bluth's All Dogs Go to Heaven has Charlie Barkin between his jaws when Charlie howls in terror. The sound is so melodious to the alligator that he set Charlie free. Later in the story, the evil Carface has captured Charlie, and has caused Charlie to howl in pain. Miles away, the Big-Lipped Alligator hears this cry, and comes to Charlie's rescue in a Big Damn Heroes moment.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Chance is heard barking from a distance just before the pets come over the hill, letting Hope and Jamie know what's about to happen.
    Hope: I know that bark! It is him!
  • In The Hunt for Red October, throughout the movie, Mancuso's sonarman Seaman Jones can recognize a lot of things by sound. When he first hears Red October approaching, he guesses that she's a Typhoon-class sub, and the computer confirms this. Later on, after Red October disappears with her new silent propulsion system, he hears what the computer identifies as a "magma displacement" and figures that the sound is actually artificial. This allows him to put two and two together and figure out about the new silent propulsion system and how to track Red October. When Captain Mancuso and some of his men boardd the titular Russian sub to accept Captain Ramius' defection, a torpedo wooshes overhead; Jones can tell from the pitch that it's Russian.
  • In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Jack is in prison when the Black Pearl opens fire on the town. He immediately sits up: "I know those guns."
  • Detective Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit are attempting to escape from the weasels by stealing the weasels' police van in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A voice from the containment area of the van pleas for freedom: "Hey, you weasels, let me outta here!" Roger Rabbit recognizes the voice and replies, "Bennie, is that you?" The sarcastic response is, "No, it's Eleanor Roosevelt! C'mon, Roger, let me outta here!"
  • In Return of the Jedi, Leia has just freed Han from carbon-freeze, but before they can get anywhere, they hear a slow, low-pitched Evil Laugh. Han mutters, "I know that laugh." Cue Jabba the Hutt.
  • In GoldenEye, once James Bond does a *Click* Hello on Valentin, he freezes into place while showing to recognize where the Dramatic Gun Cock came from ("Walther PPK. 7.65mm. Only three men I know use such a gun; I believe I've killed two of them.").
  • In Dune, Paul has his back turned to the door when Thufir, Gurney and Dr. Yeuh come in his room. He identifies the three based on the sounds of their footprints.
    Thufir: Those sounds could be imitated.
    Paul: I'd know the difference.

  • The gluttons in Purgatorio are rendered indistinguishable from each other by penitential emaciation. Yet, upon hearing the voice of a particular glutton, Dante can recognize every feature of that face lost in Purgatory belongs to his childhood friend, Forese Donati.
  • Doc Savage: Doc sometimes gave off a eerie trilling sound. Several times his men heard the sound when they were in dire straits, letting them know that Doc was nearby.
  • Goblins in the Castle: Early on in Goblins on the Prowl, Fauna hears a second visitor coming toward her cottage, and is annoyed at first (she doesn't like having company, particularly uninvited company)... until she recognizes the distinctive clump of a heavy boot, followed by the slow drag of another foot, which tells her it's very likely to be her and William's friend Igor. She's quickly proven right.
  • In the Goosebumps novel The Haunted Car, main character Mitchell claims to be able to recognise any car by the sound of its engine.
  • In both the book and film versions of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, both Katniss and Finnick hear the sounds of their loved ones and run toward them. It turned out to be mockingjays, not their actual relatives, leading to their being trapped.
  • In the Redwall series, Hon Rosie has a very loud, distinctive laugh that the others always recognize her by. "Whoohahahahahoohah!"
  • Naked Came the Stranger: As soon as Ansel Varth opens his mouth, Gillian recognizes him as Jack the Fucker, who gave her a Harassing Phone Call a few chapters ago.
  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls: Bertie, the little blind boy in the sequel The Vengeance of the Witch-finder, has learned to compensate for his blindness by his other senses improving, and is able to identify Lewis by the sound of his footstep. Later, one of the signs that Barnavelt Manor's guest Matthew Prester (actually the ghost of Malachiah Pruitt) isn't normal is that he has no footstep, which unnerves Bertie considerably.
  • Animorphs: Yeerk Dracon Beams are based off Andalite Shredder Beams. As such they sound alike. However they also sound different enough for an Andalite to recognize the difference. In one battle, Ax specifically notes this, which makes the sound of Shredder fire serve as Five-Second Foreshadowing that a team of Andalites is about to show up.
  • There Is No Epic Loot Here, Only Puns: The citizens of Durence feel the ground rumbling, but can immediately tell that it's not "rumble, roar, then rumble" which would be Haldi's cheese experiments going wrong, or "rumble, screech, rumble" which would point to Mrs Dabberghast the witch/druid, but rather "rumble, grind, rumble", the sound of a Dungeon adding a floor.
  • Eddie from The Speed of Sound can recognize the footsteps of every resident and staff member at Harmony House.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: Miami: While at a crime scene, resident gun expert Calleigh is approached by someone behind her who holds a gun to the back of her head and pulls back the hammer. In the Lab's gun vault, she has Eric do the same with a series of firearms, and she determines which type the unknown person had by listening to the number and sharpness of the clicks as Eric pulls the hammers. She encounters the gun-holder again, they have a conversation, and as she walks away, she hears the tell-tale clicks and turns around just in time to see the person commit suicide.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Characters have reacted to the sound of the TARDIS before, often running to meet the Doctor.
    • In "Closing Time", the sound of his baby crying keeps Craig from full cyber-conversion into a Cyberman.
  • Eliot Spencer of Leverage can not only identify firearms by the sounds of them firing, but even by listening to someone describe the sound of a helicopter instantly knows which agency sent it.
    Eliot: It's a very distinctive sound.
  • Jack Killian from Midnight Caller never forgets a voice, which comes in handy when criminals call the station or when he meets callers in person.
  • Invoked in the classic TV show This Is Your Life.
    Do you remember this voice?

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Regularly employed in WWE productions, where a wrestler's entrance music indicates he is on his way to the ring, often to the detriment of the wrestler already in the ring.
    Wrestler A: I throw out an open challenge to anyone backstage!
    (SFX: The Undertaker's "Bong" chimes)
    Wrestler A: Oh, Crap!...
  • One time during an Edge vs. Matt Hardy feud, Hardy's entrance music played while Edge was in the ring, causing Edge to panic and the audience to erupt - but then Edge started laughing. Hardy wasn't there, it was just Edge trolling the audience.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy X-2 (and to a lesser extent X), Tidus' whistle. (Though in X, the one time it occurs, Tidus is reacting to Yuna whistling in a crowd, even though it was Tidus who taught her to do it.)
  • In Mega Man 3, Dr. Light recognized Proto Man's identity after he heard his whistle.
  • In an early level of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Sam comments that the guns being fired at a target range close to him aren't AK-47's. When one of his support staff ask how he knows that, he says that with how many AK's that have been fired at him over the years he recognizes the sound they make.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the blind Toph recognizes people from their voice or footstep pattern.
    Toph: I never forget a voice!
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
    • In "Domes of Doom", Plunder's scheme of the week involves gaining control over the world's forests and forcing people to pay for the air. As Linka, Kwame, Gi, and Ma-Ti are being backed towards an air hose by Bleak, they hear yelling from the opening, which Linka and Ma-Ti quickly recognize as Wheeler.
    • In "O.K. at the Gunfight Corral", Hoggish Greedly's latest scheme takes him and the pursuing team to the Old West. While spying on Greedly in a saloon, Wheeler notices him cheating in a poker game, and unable to hold his tongue, announces it aloud. Greedly instantly realizes what just happened.
      Wheeler: Hogwash, Greedly! You cheated!
      People in the saloon gasp and start murmuring.
      Greedly: I know that voice. I hate that voice!
      Wheeler: Huh? (has his fake mustache ripped off his face) Ow!
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Hero for Hire", Scrooge, hearing the motor of Launchpad's helicopter, exclaims, "I'd know that sound anywhere!"
  • While sneaking around the mansion of Mad Scientist Doctor Greenthumb in the Josie and the Pussycats episode "A Greenthumb Is Not A Goldfinger," the three band members encounter a walking pile of leaves. They presume that this is one of the mad doctor's plant creatures, and attack it. While Josie and Valerie are pummeling the creature, it cries in pain from the blows. Melody recognizes the voice, and begins sobbing, "That sounds like Alexandra. The creature-plant must have eaten her!" Immediately, Josie and Valerie realize that Dumbass Has a Point, and it's revealed that the creature was Alexandra disguised as a creature plant.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In "Beneath These Streets", the Ghostbusters get separated while investigating something in the sewers. Winston hears Peter yelling as a wave of water hits him and Ray and says that he'd recognize Peter's "anguished cry" anywhere.
  • A running gag on Rocky and Bullwinkle is that Rocky would always recognize Boris' voice but still couldn't see through his disguises.
    Rocky: That voice. Where have I heard that voice?
    Bullwinkle: In about a hundred other episodes, but I don't know who it is either.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Regarding Margie", Marge has amnesia and doesn't recognize her family. The sound of Maggie sucking on her pacifier helps jog Marge's memory and recognize Maggie.
  • In South Park's "Super Best Friends", Kyle and Stan are able to locate each other by playing a game of Marco Polo, using their respective and distinctive Share Phrase.

    Real Life 
  • Each person sounds different, even when they making the same movements, like walking or breathing. This is how blind people are capable of recognizing an individual even without hearing them talk.