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The practice of removing all the dialogue from an existing piece of voiced media, such as a movie or television show, and replacing it with an entirely new recording of dialogue. Most commonly done, of course, when translating a show for audiences which don't speak the original language. Despite the trope name, this practice is almost unanimously just known as "dubbing".

You'd think the ability to strip people's voices from other sounds such as their footsteps, passing vehicles, doors opening, ruffling clothing, etc. can only be done with animated works, since every single sound in those, including dialogue, is added in post. After all, it's not like you can just animate a character talking, play it back and then words will come out of their mouth. However, live-action media is dubbed just as often (though not into as many languages as animated works, Countries such as the Netherlands, the Nordics, former Yugoslavia and Israel prefer to sub works, only dubbing it if it's likely to have a significant enough child audience).

There's a lot more that goes into the sound design of live-action films than sounds that are obviously added in, such as punching noises, gunfire and swords slashing. Pretty much all sound in a movie is highly engineered. For example, the audio that was was recorded during filming is called the production track. It is used for the dialogue, and takes up one layer. The sound of the actors' footsteps will be on a separate track, and will have been rerecorded in the sound studio by the Foley artists, as the sound gear used on-set is specifically tuned to pick up voices, and any other sounds the actors make will be much quieter and easier to drown out with foley. Likewise other sounds of movement and clothing are all added in afterwards. Of course, the music is seperate too, but it's pretty obvious that there's not a full-scale orchestra sitting just off-camera, blaring away as the actors are filming a dramatic death scene.

With all of this in place, it's easy to comb through the production track and mute any instances of the actors talking, while retaining other sounds. This is known as the Music & Effects track, and it's what foreign studios use to dub the media.

This poses few problems when it's done badly, as you can get dialogue which fails to flow naturally or is subtly (or even drastically) out of sync with the character's lip movements, causing many fans of imported films to (violently) prefer the original language version, relying instead on the translated dialogue being rendered as subtitles to understand what the characters are saying.

As for casting, getting voice actors for animation is pretty much the same as the original. They'll either just look for a voice that could plausibly come out of the character, or they'll try and emulate their original voice as closely as they can. However, for live-action, prominent actors will each have a singular voice actor per region assigned to their roles in order to keep their voice consistent throughout their career. After all, imagine if Samuel L. Jackson had a different voice in every single movie he was in. Should an actor make a cameo in an animated film, chances are their dubbing actors will voice them in the other languages as well (for example, Masashi Ebara, who is the Japanese dubbing voice of Tom Hanks, voices Hanks in the Japanese dub of The Simpsons Movie).

Sometimes, rather than attempt to recreate the original dialogue, the copyright holders will simply replace the entire thing with new dialogue, to humorous effect — a Gag Dub. Directly related to Dueling Dubs.

See also Looping Lines, where an actor re-records a line in a booth to be dubbed over their original delivery, and Same Language Dub, where either a singular character is dubbed over by a different actor, or all the media's dialogue is rerecorded in a different dialect.


  • Godzilla: Though played (mostly) straight, these films tend to be hilarious to English speakers, as the translated dialogue is often multiple seconds out of synch with the original lip motion.
  • One of the most famous examples in Britain is The Magic Roundabout, which took the French show Le Manège enchanté and redubbed it with a completely new script by Eric Thompson. The 2005 CGI feature film adaptation was then redubbed in the US as Doogal; the dub replaced all but two of the British celebrities who provided voices for the characters with American ones.
  • The initial American release of Mad Max had all the dialog redubbed by American actors, without the Australian accents. The original Australian dialogue track was finally released in North America in 2000 in a limited theatrical reissue by MGM (the film's current rights holders), and the film has since been released in the U.S. on DVD with the American and Australian soundtracks included on separate audio tracks.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's first feature film, Hercules in New York had all his lines redubbed by an actor without the Austrian accent. Later, when English-speaking audiences had become accustomed to Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent, it was rereleased with the original audio track restored. It's up for debate whether that was a good idea...
  • Andie McDowell's lines in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes were redubbed, by Glenn Close. This was because McDowell was unable to do an English accent.
  • The Life and Death of Peter Sellers had a sad example. After he and his wife separate, Peter redubs his wife's lines so that it sounds like they stayed together.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons. The retirement home has a redubbed Gone with the Wind where Scarlett & Rhett stay together and all the American Civil War parts were removed.
    • Spoofed in the episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", which is about Homer trying to attend the Super Bowl. In one scene, every time someone mentions the teams playing in the game (or the President and First Lady at the time), they deliberately obscure their mouths by holding a beer mug in front of their faces. In the DVD commentary the creators say that they did this because they fully expected they'd be asked to change the names in subsequent broadcasts,note  but this never happened and thus the episode still refers specifically to Super Bowl XXXIII, which happened in 1999.
  • Weirdly, The Gods Must Be Crazy was redubbed for North American release even though the actors who weren't Bushmen spoke English. It was thought that their South African accents would be difficult to understand.
  • The Thomas & Friends fan community is notorious for doing this, but occasionally end up doing an (arguably) better job than the original narrator, mostly due to the fact that many of these fan redubs have very large casts.
  • One of the most notorious instances of this happens in the unintentionally hilarious 1968 drama The Legend of Lylah Clare. It seems actress Kim Novak could not handle the German accent, so another actress with a much deeper voice dubbed on the Lylah voice when required. While this did indeed make it seem like her meek actress character was possessed by the ghost of the dead Lylah, it's also very obvious dubbing. Made all the funnier by the heavily Italian-accented Rossella Falk as Lylah's former dialogue coach!
  • One of the most pointless redubbings was in Arthur, in which Arthur's new voice actor redubbed the season during which his original voice actor had gone through puberty. Especially jarring for viewers who had viewed the episodes before the edits. That said, Mark Rendall is near universally viewed as a better actor than Justin Bradley, who the producers claimed lacked the vocal range of Arthur's original voice actor, Michael Yarmush, and would make Arthur sound whiny when he was upset. Mark Rendall is also generally considered Arthur's second best voice actor, behind Michael Yarmush.
  • In the 2006 DVD re-release for An American Tail in the scene where the three orphans torment Fievel, two of their voices were redubbed: the fat one and the short one. Originally they were voiced by children, but in the redubbed dialogue the fat one is given a low gravely voice and the short one is given a nasally voice, both by grown men.
  • When releasing anime movies and shows that have pre-existing dubs, Sentai Filmworks, on rare occasions, may record an entirely new dub and include it along with the previous dub. An example would be their release of Appleseednote . Not only did they include the original Animaze dub, they also made an alternate dub using Seraphim Digital Studios for the purpose of maintaining consistency with the English dub of Appleseed Ex Machina, which was also recorded by Seraphim Digital Studios.
  • Yugoslavian movie The Battle of Neretva was filmed with an international cast which included Orson Welles, Yul Brynner and Franco Nero. However, the movie was mostly in Croatian and Serbian, and the foreign actors mispronounced a lot of lines, so they were eventually redubbed.
  • When VIZ Media acquired the rights to the Sailor Moon anime, rather than securing the license to the censored 90s dub, they opted instead to redub from scratch, retranslating the scripts to be faithful to the original and utilizing veteran voice actors. Of note, not only are all episodes covered by DIC and Cloverway getting the treatment, but also Sailor Stars, the theatrical movies, and all tie-in specials. Interestingly, this will avert Crystal's recasting as unlike in Japan, the same cast plan to cover that as well.
  • A few years before the Sgt. Frog anime finally made it to North America, it was dubbed into English by Sony's anime-themed satellite channel Animax, giving it the title Sergeant Keroro. Although the acting (decent for Animax) may not have been quite up to American standards, this dub was considerably more faithful to the Japanese script than Funimation's dub. As a result, there are a few script purists who prefer it. A few clips of the Animax dub can be found online, for those curious enough to sample it.
  • When DePatie-Freleng's Tijuana Toads cartoons were broadcast as part of The Pink Panther Laugh-and-a-Half Hour-and-a-Half Show, the titular characters' voices were redubbed to avoid Mexican stereotyping, turning them into the "Texas Toads".
  • Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?: Following the premiere of Season 2, in which Robot's voice switched from a MacInTalk to a synthesized child's voice, all the Season 1 episodes were redubbed with the new actor.
  • Gravity Falls: Following Louis C.K.'s admission to sexual misconduct, his lines as "The Horrifying Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity" were redubbed by series creator Alex Hirsch.
  • Some first season episodes of The Real Ghostbusters were redubbed with Dave Coulier and Kath Soucie replacing Lorenzo Music and Laura Summer as Peter Venkman and Janine Melntiz for ABC reruns, to match the recasting that occurred in the second ABC season. The episode "Slimer, Is That You?", from the syndicated second season, also exists in versions with both casts, due to it being swapped from the syndicated season to the second ABC season. The later DVD release uses the Coulier/Soucie version, while the earlier release uses the Music/Summer version, however only the original first season episodes have seen release.
  • Two versions of the Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercial from 1986 exist, in the original Mel Blanc voiced Barney and Hal Smith voiced Santa Claus, at one point it was redubbed in the early 90's with Frank Welker voicing Barney and Jim Cummings voicing Santa.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dubbing


Dubbing It Ourselves

Dominic is able to obtain a film print of "Hawk and Chick Vs. Seaweed Monster", but he was only able to obtain the original version of it, meaning it's not dubbed or subtitled in English. To solve the problem, the Belchers decided to redub the film themselves.

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Main / Redubbing

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