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Scratchy-Voiced Senior

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Old people in fiction always seem to talk the same way: with a scratchy, sometimes slow and/or quiet, either very high or very deep, voice, as though they always have laryngitis. There is a grain of Truth in Television to this: when we get old, there's a chance of our vocal chords wearing down, which leads to a chance of our voices sounding scratchy, but it's not as common (or exaggerated) as fiction makes it out to be.

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Expect the Scratchy Voiced Senior to also be grumpy, knit a lot (especially if she's a woman), sleep a lot, and display other stereotypical old-people traits. They may also have a Yiddish accent.

In written works, this could be described as the person's voice "cracking with age". It's also common to have a character imply that another character is old by talking to them in a scratchy voice. These old people don't usually have an actual sore throat, but a few of them do, and may be heard coughing, perhaps turning into an Incurable Cough of Death if they then die. They may also drink water a lot to soothe their sore throats. Sometimes justified by having them be a smoker or former smoker. See also Tomboyish Voice, Badass Baritone, and Evil Sounds Deep for other stereotypes about voices. If the elderly person is a villain, it overlaps with Evil Sounds Raspy. See also Guttural Growler which has some overlap. Not to be confused with an old person sounding like a much-abused cartoon cat.

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Head Captain Genryusai has a gravely voice. It's more noticeable in the sub.
  • Otose from Gintama has a noticeably gravely voice. She's also a smoker.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Corpse Bride, the old woman who is the widow of background character Albert has a high, croaky voice.
  • One of the Shrek movies has a scene where several people say, "This is it" one by one, the last being a croaky-sounding old man.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mary Poppins, Mr. Dawes is extremely old and he has a throaty voice. He also coughs a lot.
  • Richard Harris gave Professor Albus Dumbledore his scratchy voice in the first two Harry Potter films. After his death, Michael Gambon took over and brought a much deeper and stronger voice to the character.

    Literature 
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, when Grandma Georgina is aged to a 300+-year-old woman, her voice becomes extremely croaky.
  • In Warrior Cats, elders are occasionally described as having raspy voices; Yellowfang in particular is described this way a lot, and in the first book Dappletail is mentioned to have a voice cracked with age.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doom Patrol (2019), John Bowers had a very strong, forceful voice in the flashbacks when he is still young, but when Larry finally reconnects with him in the present, his voice has become thin and scratchy, the results of advanced age and illness.
  • Downplayed on House of Anubis, when Amber is struck with an aging curse; her voice changes subtly along with her appearance after an Over Night Age Up, and becomes much more soft and crackly. As soon as the curse is lifted, her voice goes back to normal.
  • Sesame Street: The old man who narrates the skit about a time he had the flu speaks in a deep, croaky voice (and no, he doesn't have the flu at the time of the narration; it's his normal voice).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In one episode, Bashir is in a coma and having a hallucination that he is getting older and older very quickly. Most of his time as elderly, he speaks in his regular voice, but when he's over a hundred, his voice becomes very scratchy.
    • In "The Visitor", an alternate future shows the characters as seniors. Nog and Dax sound the same, Jake sounds like a slightly croakier version of his father, but Bashir sounds very croaky.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "All Good Things", we see the future versions of the characters and they're all elderly. They talk in their regular voices, but when Q mocks them for being old by acting like a stereotypical old man, he speaks in a high, croaky voice.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, Kes keeps travelling back and forth in time and when she's old, her voice becomes deeper and croakier.

    Theatre 
  • In A Very Potter Sequel, Dolores Umbridge's elderly, crone-like mother speaks in a slow, high-pitched screech, done in falsetto as it's a Cross-Cast Role.
  • In Puccini's Turandot, the score calls for the Emperor, Turandot's father, to be played by a character tenor "with the weary voice of a decrepit old man."

    Video Games 
  • By Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake speaks with a very deep, gravely voice. Decades of cigarette smoking certainly didn't help.
  • In Persona, Igor speaks with a scratchy, high-pitched voice to help portray his whimsy and mysteriousness as the master of the Velvet Room. In fact, he became so well-known for his voice that Persona 5 shocked players when his new voice actor gave him a deep, booming one instead. This is a clue that this Igor is a fake. Once the real Igor returns in the end to assist the heroes, his voice is the same as ever.

    Web Videos 
  • TFS at the Table: Grammy, a sea hag who serves as the team chef, has a distinctly raspy voice. If some comments are to be believed, it's because she smokes ten packs a day.
  • The Weather: In one skit, Robby plays a rambling old man, and puts on a much scratchier voice than his usual one while in the role.
  • Achievement Hunter: Michael & Jeremy's Old Men characters.

    Western Animation 
  • In Arthur, the episode "The Feud" has Arthur imagine himself and D.W. still arguing about whether to have ranch (what D.W. wants) or blue cheese (what Arthur wants) even as old people. They both have scratchy voices in the daydream.
  • An episode of Daria features Daria, Kevin, and Brittany reading to senior citizens for a school community service week. Brittany is, naturally, a big hit with the elderly ladies, who comment that she has a pretty voice. One even comments that she sounds just like another senior did when she was young, to which the senior in question croaks outs, "I always did have a lovely voice!"
  • The grandmother in Familia Tipo has a gravely voice.
  • Grunkle Stan in Gravity Falls also has a raspy voice.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Granny Smith speaks in a high, scratchy, wavery voice.
    • One old homeless mare featured in "Sleepless in Ponyville" says her catchphrase "Who's got my rusty horseshoe?!" in a deep, scratchy voice which scares Scootaloo (because that's what the legendary Headless Horse also says) until she finds the old mare's rusty horseshoe.
  • Grandpa Boris from Rugrats sports a pretty scratchy voice, complete with Yiddish accent.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • Grandpa Simpson has a slightly scratchy voice.
    • Marge, Patty, and Selma's mother Jacqueline has an especially raspy voice, even compared to her daughters (all four of the Bouvier women are voiced by Julie Kavner).
    • This is pretty much standard for elderly characters in the Simpsons, as it's also true of Jasper, Agnes Skinner, and Old Jewish Man, among others (although Mr. Burns, who is the oldest of them all, is an aversion).

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