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Sickening "Crunch!"

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"The worst part was hitting the ground
Not the feeling so much as the sound."
Barenaked Ladies, "Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel"

If someone breaks a bone in fiction, usually they'll inform the other characters, and people will act accordingly. But sometimes, a writer may want to make the viewer or reader realize the character has been injured immediately, perhaps convey that it's serious or incredibly painful.

In TV, this means making the sound of a broken bone (crack!) a bit louder, frequently with the foley noise of a breaking stick or a stalk of celery. In literature, this means taking the time to describe the sound ("...with a sickening crunch"). It doesn't have to be a broken bone, either. Maybe a character's heart is struggling, and the viewer will hear that character's heartbeat from time to time.

This is a good way to make a Gory Discretion Shot still really unsettling.

Compare with Kung-Foley and Hell Is That Noise. May be a Stock Sound Effect.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure
    • In the anime of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Yoshikage Kira gets his head crushed by an ambulance, accompanied by this sound. I mean, the guy deserved it, but did David Productions have to show his head twisting back before cutting away?
    • In a similar vein, in the adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo, this is the sound we hear when Diavolo uses King Crimson to punch a hole in Bruno's chest.
  • Naruto:
    • During the Chuunin exams, Neji damages Hinata's heart during their fight. A heartbeat sound and a picture of a heart appear from time to time, and she reacts as though she's in pain. (This example is from the Anime; it may have been depicted differently in the Manga.)
    • From the same arc, a crunching sound is heard when Sasuke, under the influence of his then-recent curse mark, dislocates Zaku's shoulder.
  • In One Piece, when Usopp is hit in the face by a 4-tonne baseball bat. Complete with the picture of his bones shattering. Good thing he had the Heroic Resolve on that time...
  • Magical Witch Punie-chan reigns over this trope. Punie's submission holds are really painful to behold and hear.
  • Attack on Titan makes liberal usage of this trope, mostly the horrible noises made when victims are crushed by Titans or falling rubble. But perhaps the best usage is the quiet but distinct *crack* heard when Levi breaks his ankle during the battle with the Female Titan — he winces and keeps going, but afterward is forced onto the sidelines for several weeks.
  • In the anime of Redo of Healer, Keyaru, who has Princess Flare at his mercy, snaps her fingers one-by-one, complemented with an audible crack sound per finger broken.
  • The titular zombies in Zombie Land Saga produce quiet little pops and crunches whenever they violate human motion. Or whenever it's funny. The third episode has a smattering of crunches liberally used in any scene where typical Wacky Sound Effects might be expected.

    Comic Books 
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, at the end of the Jaka's Story arc, Jaka's husband Rick punches her out when he learns that she aborted their child behind his back. The Cirinists agree to honor his wish to never see her again, but as punishment for striking a woman, they break his left thumb. It's not shown, but the loud CRACK of the break and his shriek of pain are depicted.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Wind," the dog fight between Bolt and Ike ends when the latter charges at Bolt trying to end the struggle. The shepherd executes a spin move while on his back, and Ike (not realizing Bolt has eluded his path) crashes headfirst into a brick wall, breaking his neck with a loud snap.
    Luckily, the shepherd cleared his head at the last minute. Vaguely remembering what he had done when begging for food scraps with Mittens on their cross-country trip, he spun quickly onto his back just out of the way of the attacking retriever. Ike never looked up to realize Bolt had rolled out of reach and crashed headfirst into the brick wall. A sickening crack reverberated through the alley as Ike dropped on his stomach like a sack of cannonballs, landing face first into a pothole filled with murky water. He didn't move after that.
  • In The Nightmare House, Leni Loud has a nightmare about her legs being crushed and she hears gross cracking and gurgling sounds.
  • During the epilogue of The Vow, the recently crippled warrior Lord Shen attempts to train with his still broken body due to the horrific nightmare he had about losing his loved ones. Driving himself into a frenzy, he only manages to injure himself further. When he's being carried back to bed, he still tries to fight, passing out with a horrid crunch. He survives but loses more percents in regaining his former physical prowess than he already had.
  • The Bridge: During her merciless beating of Sci-Twi, Aria kicks her several times in the chest. A crunch reveals that Aria ends up breaking one of her ribs.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Jungle Book (1994): One of the main antagonist's henchmen suffers an off-screen but very graphic Disney Villain Death — while trying to crush Mowgli, he gets kicked in the groin and falls off a precipice that's just behind him. We see him plummeting headlong towards rocks, then the camera cuts away and his hideous scream is silenced by a chilling thud...
  • 127 Hours: It's a movie about a man who gets his arm crushed under a rock. Three guesses where you hear this sound.
  • The Dark Knight: Batman holds Maroni off the edge of a building, threatening him for information. When Maroni informs him that it's not high enough to kill him, Batman agrees, then promptly drops him. The crunch when he lands on his feet (either breaking his legs or his knees) is sickening, to say the least. Maroni spends the rest of the movie barely walking with a cane.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel: The Neck Snap Superman performs on Zod to stop his rampage once and for all.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: At least two of such sounds are heard when Batman fights mooks in the warehouse to rescue Martha Kent - one when he breaks a mook's arm, the other when he punches another straight in the face.
    • Birds of Prey: At Roman Sionis' nightclub, Harley Quinn jumps on the legs of Sionis' driver while he had his feet on a table. It sounds as painful as it looks.
  • The Batman: It's heard a fair number of times during Batman's savage beatdown on a foolhardy mook who tried attacking him.
  • Insidious: The sound that heralds the appearance of the demon is supposed to be the sounds of bones breaking, adding an extra shiver factor.
  • Legend of the Wolf: The final battle between the Wolf and the main villain ends when the Wolf managed to land a fist though his opponent's nuts. The excessively loud CRUNCH!!! that follows caused many a male audience to wince and cross their legs tight.
  • The Ruins:
    • Two girls decide it is a good idea to pick up and move a man who has just fallen 20+ feet and says he can't feel his legs. Sickening "Crunch!" Ensues.
    • Even worse is later when a character breaks the injured friend's leg with a big rock... So he can amputate it with a tiny pocket knife.
  • We hear one in Superman II as Superman, of all people, crushes the bones in Zod's hand.
  • The Three Stooges used this effect to an absurd extent, which added to the hilarity. For example, even Moe twisting Curly's nose or ears would be accompanied by a loud crackling noise.
  • Undercover Brother: Subverted. The title character is about to stomp a Mook who's lying on the ground. We see him stomp and hear a horrible crunching sound as he twists his foot but we don't actually see the stomp connect. Just when you think he's smashed the Mook's head in, the camera looks down and we see that UB actually smashed a bag of potato chips. The mook moans that he just bought those chips before losing consciousness.
  • A typical feature of a Steven Seagal action flick, notably used in the jewelry store fight in Marked for Death.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • The movie gives us one of these when Khan crushes Admiral Marcus's skull with his bare hands. If the sound makes you want to throw up, then that's perfectly understandable.
    • Immediately before that, Khan stomps down on Carol's leg with the same effect.
    • During their fight, Spock breaks Khan's arm over his shoulder.
  • Tom-Yum-Goong has three-and-a-half solid minutes of Tony Jaa destroying the bones of everything wearing a suit out of rage and grief for his killed elephant.
  • When the Kraken attacks the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it pulls one man out through a gun port, and he gets stuck. We see his twitching legs, hear the crunching noises, and see Pintel and Ragetti pressing themselves to the wall on either side of the port, scared out of what few wits they possess, trying desperately not to vomit.
  • So much so that it is edited off the soundtrack, Javert's suicide in Les Misérables (2012).
  • Invoked in The Nightmare Before Christmas with the ratcheting noise that occurs whenever the Mayor's head spins.
  • In the live-action adaptation Beauty and the Beast (2017), Gaston plummets to his death again. It's actually scarier than the animated version. As he plummets into the abyss, we hear an audible, meaty, death-confirming thud.
  • Django Unchained: At the end of the "mandingo" fight which two slaves were forced into on Calvin Candie's estate, we hear one of these which implies that the victor had just broken several bones (or maybe the back) of his opponent. After this, Candie gives the victor a clawhammer and orders him to finish his opponent off.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, there is a very unsettling cracking sound when Thanos breaks Loki's neck, killing him. And when Black Widow stabs Corvus Glaive with Proxima Midnight's spear, a distinct crunching sound can be heard.
  • In Death Becomes Her, as Madeline is pushed down the stairs, the first thing that happens is her neck hitting a step, leading to a loud crack. And given she had just been given immortality potion, her supposedly dead self rises with the Head Turned Backwards. Once Madeline puts it the right way, there is a similar crunch.
  • A New Hope: When Darth Vader finally grows tired of interrogating Captain Antilles, he finishes him off with a grisly crunch. The incompetent Admiral Ozzel meets a similar end in the sequel - Vader is generally a pretty rich furrow of these thanks to his signature move.
  • When Gwen Stacy fell to her death during the climactic scene of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, an audible thud could be heard.

  • Pops up in A Storm of Swords when Ser Gregor Clegane kills Prince Oberyn Martell. It gets the narrative equivalent of a Gory Discretion Shot, but dialogue indicates that Clegane crushes Oberyn's head with his bare hands.
  • Turns up in The Stand - Stu hears it when he falls down a ravine and lands hard on one leg, snapping it.
  • In John R. Powers' Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, one of the characters, Timmy Heidi, is a member of the tumbling team performing at a high-school basketball game's halftime show. He misjudges his last landing, and the whole audience hears the crunch!
  • The backbone breaking is described when Wulfgar finally manages to kill Yerrininae in Companions Codex. By the end of their prolonged fight in the burning forge, he latches on to him and bends his back backward for so long that Yerrininae's spine snaps.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Thunder Rising, when some dogs find the camp, Gray Wing sees one of them chewing old rabbit bones and flinches when he hears the bones crunching in its jaws, the implication being that that could easily be a cat's bones if one of them is caught. This is later proven true in Path of Stars: Thunder hears a crunch when a dog bites down on a cat, breaking his spine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, itself a Gag Dub, would use and overuse this to a hilarious extent.
  • Ultraman Leo uses this in the first episode when Ultraseven had his leg twisted by the Gillas Brothers.
  • Happens in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger where Basco shows how powerful his 'true form' is by catching Gai's spear and then breaking his arm, complete with crunch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Let's face it, Buffy Summers is strong. Really really strong. She eats vampires with super strength for breakfast and asks for seconds. So when her on again off again vampire boyfriend seemingly tries to kill her friends, we get a sickening bone-crunching boot to the head that somehow didn't cave Spike's head in.
  • It wasn't enough for us to see Sherlock hit the pavement at the end of "The Reichenbach Fall", we had to hear it.
  • On Good Eats, this happens several times, as Alton shows the viewers how to spatchcock a chicken, turkey, or duck. (Basically, you crush the keel bone and open the bird up like a book. This is to help it cook faster: a turkey that would take all afternoon to roast whole can be done in less than an hour.) Explicitly invoked in S4EP4, "Crustacean Nation II: Claws."
    Alton Brown: This is how I do it. Just put the fat side of the knuckle right there in between that joint and squeeze until you hear a sickening crunch. [snap] That's a sickening crunch.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode "Menace"; Just after Daniel has managed to talk the super-strong but child-like android who can create and control replicators out of trying to kill everyone in the base, he inadvisedly tries to get a hand on her neck to remove her battery and shut her down. Said teenage-looking robot with the mind of a child proceeds to casually grab hold of his arm and snap it. Cue. That. Noise.
  • This trope is the whole purpose behind the defunct MTV show Scarred.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • In season 2's "Peek-a-boo", we get one as a guy's head is crushed by an ATM. Jesse even mentions the noise, and is nauseated when he remembers it.
    • In "Felina", Jesse breaks Todd's neck. It's as unsettling as it is disturbingly satisfying.
  • In The X-Files episode "The Pine Bluff Variant," Mulder is infiltrating a domestic terrorism group undercover. When higher-ups start getting suspicious, he is interrogated and punished by having his fingers bent back. When Mulder goes too far and suggests a mole in the organization, there is a loud snapping sound—Mulder's pinky finger is broken. And even though you know it's fake, the sound they use is enough to make anyone queasy.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), there is a bone-crunching noise when Jake punches Sam in the shoulder.
  • Game of Thrones has the Oberyn Martell's head being crushed by the Mountain, made even more horrifying than in the source material, since it's shown on-screen, in graphic detail.
  • Happens in Kamen Rider BLACK everytime the protagonist transforms. He clinches his hands with accompanying audible cracking sounds before uttering the transformation phrase.
  • When Negan kills Abraham and Glenn by bashing their heads with a baseball bat in the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead, the audience is not spared from the audible destruction of their respective skulls.
  • In the Owen Hart episode of Dark Side of the Ring, Jim Ross describes the sound of Owen hitting the ring during his fatal fall as this: "Sick, sick."


    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Supplement Fearful Passages, adventure "Sleigh Ride". The PCs and an NPC named Chance are lying in ambush to try to bag some monsters when one of them sneaks up behind Chance.
      Chance, terrified, drops the rifle into the snow. He stands frozen just long enough for the creature to reach out gigantic hands and wrench Chance's head with a sickening crack.
    • Campaign setting The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "Castle Black". When the star vampire attacks Vetch it will inexorably bend him backward until his spine snaps with a sickening crunching sound.

    Video Games 
  • Anarchy Reigns has cracking sounds made whenever the Rin sisters snap people's necks.
  • Minecraft replaced the long-standing "OOGH" damage sound with an absolutely spine-chilling set of crunching, cracking, and gibbing sounds. Some of these are even given titles such as "Hurt Flesh.wav".
  • Mirror's Edge: Try jumping off a roof. You'll hear it.
  • Mortal Kombat 9: The absolutely sadistic X-Ray move. What makes it worse is its namesake feature, showing you the type of damage your character's doing.
  • Hitting people with your hammer in Red Faction:Guerilla produces a rather delicious sound.
  • Samurai Shodown: Hanzō's fatality consist in him swiftly breaking the arm, leg, ribs, and then skull of his victim, all with audible cracks and shots of the broken bones inside.
  • Super Paper Mario: When Mimi reveals her monster form, her neck snaps as her head starts spinning around. Unexpectedly disturbing for a Mario game.
  • Tomb Raider: The first five games all feature the iconic and cringe-inducing crack and splat noise whenever Lara takes a lethal drop. Later games do away with it, but the Crystal Dynamics era games still have some painful sounding smacks and crunches for Lara's wipeouts.
  • WWE All Stars which has over the top versions of wrestling moves makes the submissions more extreme looking by stretching the victim more than normal and adding a loud bone cracking/crunching sound.
  • In the intro movie for Baldur's Gate, Sarevok strangles an unnamed character so hard it makes scrunching noises. The dead body falling to the ground from a height after that also makes a crunch.
  • Some moves in SoulCalibur are accompanied by sickening crunches. Ivy's "wrap the whip sword around their neck and pull it through" move is especially nasty.
  • You get a couple of these in Tekken but none more than Lars' rear throw wherein he grabs his opponent by their hair and bends their neck over backward with the obligatory "crunch".
  • In the Dragon Age II quest "Alone", Fenris gives his former master Danarius a loud bone-crunching neck snap when he and Hawke's party defeat him.
  • SCP – Containment Breach, the sound of your neck cracked by SCP-173.
  • A student that gets hurled off of the school roof in Yandere Simulator will emit a loud crack as they meet the ground (and their death).
    "Ugh! Wha—?! AAAAAaaaaaahhhhhh...! *CRUNCH*
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has one after the final battle. As Ganondorf starts dying, he sees an apparition of Zant. Cue Zant snapping his own neck, followed by Ganondorf's eyes glossing over before he dies.
  • The Elder Scrolls games have this when you take fall damage starting with Morrowind.
  • A less horrifying, more comedic example, comes from players jumping from a high distance in Final Fantasy XIV: they land with one of these. It's rarely lethal, surprisingly cathartic at times, and one can expect to hear the noise a lot when players are attempting to spawn an S-rank target in Coerthas Central Highlands — which requires that characters in the vicinity drop to 1 HP.
  • Yakuza 0 has a crunching sound accompany the scene where Kuze is forced to commit Yubitsume.
  • MORDHAU: While sharp armament will do their usual noisy slices and stabs, blunt weapons are notorious for the loud crunches that come from them making contact with an enemy's body. In particular, the sound of a maul delivering an instant head crush through helmet and all is quite distinctive and audible over everything else even in a busy battlefield.
  • Frosty Nights: If the killer Snowlems manage to catch you, you hear what sounds like a bone snapping.
  • In Leaden Sky, the loud sound of breaking bones always plays when you smash enemies with your sledgehammer, or stomp their limbs with your legs.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories: The Bad Ending called It's a beautiful night, isn't it? in Clover World. Ukyo carries the heroine up to the roof of the hospital she is in and drops her off of it. She narrates a few lines about falling before a very wet crunch is heard, then the screen goes red and transitions to the Bad Ending screen.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: You can get a special scene if you compose poems that appeal to Natsuki for the first two days of Act Two. When she shows you her poem, it's all in garbled code (which someone actually found out was in base64 and managed to translate) Translation  She then proceeds to ask you why you flaked on her, and that it was the only thing she had left to look forward to. The screen turns a dim red as she tells you Yuri is a "sick freak" and you shouldn't associate with her. As she continues to ramble, her eyes and mouth become blacked out, blood begins pouring down her face, and the music grows distorted. Eventually, she dons a huge Slasher Smile, screaming "PLAY WITH ME!!!" as her neck snaps like The Crooked Man. Her sprite then lunges toward the screen and you get the "END" card backward. The game then goes back to normal as if nothing happened.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY
    • Volume Six opens with a Traintop Battle, which is suddenly interrupted by an oncoming tunnel. The protagonists all duck inside, but second-rate Huntsman Dudley is a split second too late and doesn't get his arm clear in time. Cue Smash Cut followed immediately by the crunch of bone and Dudley's agonized scream.
    • Later on, in the episode "Seeing Red", Adam Taurus gets one as his body hits the rocks while falling into a raging torrent.

    Web Comics 
  • The Good Witch: The previous good witch jumps out a window, and a crunch is heard. When we're shown where she landed, all that's left is her clothes.
  • Leaving the Cradle: One of Gharr's arms was broken in the crash, as he finds out the hard way after he wakes up.
  • The Order of the Stick gives us a cleric who's about to get revenge on someone for betraying him. We see the following sound effects come from off-panel: Thunk. Thunk. SQUILCH!
  • In Our Little Adventure, this sound means that the local Epic-level Sorcerous Overlord is angry enough to fire up the Implosion spell and start handing out One Hit Kills.

     Web Original 
  • Dr. Zubin "ZDoggMD" Damania invokes this trope in one of his "Incident Report" videos explaining why it's important to have an advance directive and someone who can relay that information to the doctors and nurses in the event that you can't speak for yourself. (Or, what "Do Everything" actually means.) He walks the viewers through a "code blue" scenario: the patient is brought into the hospital by EMS, and loses his/her pulse in the emergency room. The nurse calls a code blue, and an intern is ordered to begin compressions. A more seasoned doctor or nurse tells that intern to push harder, and faster. The patient's ribs and sternum crack, and worse, the patient gets just enough circulation from the chest compressions that s/he is peripherally aware of what's going on, and can hear his/her own ribs cracking. And that's before the intubation, the use of a vein in the groin, the epinephrine push, and then waking up in the ICU. (Part of the point of this video was that as hard as it is on the patient, it's harder on the doctors and nurses, because they don't want to torture people, yet that's exactly what they're forced to do if the patient does not have an advance directive.) The takeaway was that if you don't want this to happen to you (whether that's "Do Not Resuscitate" or just "Allow natural death if the prognosis is poor"), that you need to tell someone who cares about you, but who won't be too blinded by emotion to act in your best interests, what your end-of-life wishes are.

    Western Animation 
  • On one episode of Adventure Time, Finn's legs get crushed by a stag, which causes a very cringe-worthy sound.
  • Justice League:
    • In "Only a Dream", when Superman gives Jimmy Olsen a Deadly Hug, the soundtrack features a rather nasty crack.
    • In "Ancient History", there is a nasty crack when Shadow Thief breaks Green Lantern's arm.
  • This is often used in The Simpsons, as Matt Groening is of the opinion that the more 'painful' the sound effect, the funnier it will be.
  • In Steven Universe, when Lars gets slammed into a cliff face and falls a good distance to the ground, you can hear bones crack when they hit the rock. Downplayed, as the sound isn't turned up in any way, and you can barely hear it unless you're listening for it.
  • In The Dragon Prince, Soren is sent flying by an enraged dragon and hits a large boulder with an awful "crunch". Reality Ensues when that noise is, in fact, his spine breaking, and he's paralyzed from the neck down.

    Real Life 
  • Yes, bones make sounds when they break. However, particularly if you break a bone by falling from a height on to it, the sound is not loud enough to be heard over that of the impact with the ground. Also, for most bones, there are a few layers of muscle, fat, and skin that can do a lot to muffle the sound, making it sound more like a cross between a crack and a pop (crack your knuckles, you'll get the idea.)
  • A tearing Achilles tendon makes a distinctive "THOCK" sound.
  • According to urban legend, badgers run on this trope. When attacking a human, a wild badger will supposedly lock its jaws around the shin and not let go until it hears bones snap. As a safety measure, before going out in the forest you should stuff your boots with dry twigs, coal, or anything else that could produce the necessary sickening crunch to trick the badger into letting go.


Video Example(s):


Aunt Anna kills Fly

Aunt Anna, accidentally steps on Fly, when he was turned into a fish... thankfully, the real Fly is alive and what she stepped on was a stuffed fish.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / SickeningCrunch

Media sources:

Main / SickeningCrunch