Follow TV Tropes


Sinister Scraping Sound

Go To
Mmm-mmm! Finger-sparking-good.
"The next moment a hideous, grinding screech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck."
Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the Two Minutes Hate begins

For the best reading experience, play the sound from this video while reading on.

The Sinister Scraping Sound is the issue of the Unholy Matrimony between Nails on a Blackboard and Audible Sharpness, with Nightmare Fuel acting as the godfather. This is a very basic Horror trope, the sound of metal scraping on metal, rock, wood, or another hard surface. It might be heard continuously or rhythmically, slowly intensifying as the source approaches.

It might be a knife on a countertop, a machete against a pipe, a sword against the ground, or a Chainsaw against basically anything if you want to ramp up the fear. This usually plays hell with hidden characters who are trying to hide, as it increases their panic. If they can keep their mouth shut, they might survive... or get pulled/impaled through the wall. Of course, the noise might be something completely innocuous that leads to another, more dangerous scare.

As the picture shows, it might be accompanied with sparks. Characters arriving after the scraper has left will no doubt wonder at who left the scratches —or gouges— on the wall/floor. The foreboding Bloody Handprints and body parts everywhere will be easier to piece together (unlike the bodies).

Often an example of Hell Is That Noise.


    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Homestuck fan adventure Alabaster: The Doomed Session, there is a Pyramid Head parody. No need to say, the monster is predated by the proverbial big knife sound.
  • In With Strings Attached, at night, while Paul is lying in bed trying to figure out what to do about John, the reader hears *scrape*... *scrape*... *scrape*. Then *scrape* #twang#, and Paul finally hears the noise. It's his guitar... is it sliding down the wall? No, it's moving along the floor and then jumps into bed with Paul!

    Films — Animated 
  • The Judge zombie does this in Paranorman in Norman's late uncle's house while searching for him, slowly scraping his nail across the wall while chipping off the plaster.
  • Lord Shen's bladed talons do this in Kung Fu Panda 2, with him walking extra slowly to add to the effect.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Waterphone is used to generate many scraping sounds in horror films and games, including Silent Hill.
  • In the second Ace Ventura movie, he tortures a suspect into talking by sitting down to a table setting and running a knife back and forth over an empty plate, making a horrible screeching noise.
  • Black Rat: When Kengo is trying to escape from Ryota, his pursuer is holding a length of steel pipe that drags on the floor; making a sinister scraping sound as they inexorably advance on him.
  • In The Butchers, as the Zodiac Killer is chasing Ren, he drags his sickle along the wall of the caravan, producing a sinister scraping sound.
  • The hospital scene in The Crazies (2010) shows one of the titular crazies scraping a pitchfork along the floor as he prepares to stab people who were strapped down on gurneys. Later on, another crazy is seen scraping a carving knife across a wall in a deliberate attempt to scare Judy out of hiding.
  • Mr. Sleep of the Strangers in Dark City scrapes his knife to the wall when he is closing in on the protagonist.
  • Done in Get Out (2017) with a spoon scraping a teacup, of all things. Missy Armitage uses it to hypnotize and brainwash her victims, making the otherwise innocuous sound downright terrifying.
  • Though not shown, we see the aftereffects in Hook. The scratch marks on the wallpaper, combined with a maid's hysterical report, indicate that Hook sauntered through the house, scraping his hook along the walls, until he caught up with the children he was after.
  • In Hotel Rwanda a member of the Hutu militia menacingly drags his machete across the pavement of the road.
  • In Mowgli, when Shere Khan drags his crippled leg along the ground, his claws make a scraping sound on the rock.
  • As pictured above, Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series loves to scrape his finger blades along the nearest surface while stalking his latest victim. As well as creating sparks upon the impact of metal on metal, it echoes across the surroundings, screwing with his victims by freaking them out before they even get a chance to see him.
  • The Spanish-language slasher Pesadilla Fatal ("Fatal Nightmare") has a killer with a Freddy Krueger-style glove, who does this to torment a blind girl.
  • When some psycho is chasing one of the model girls in The Ratman, he scrapes his knife to a wall while walking.
  • Resident Evil Film Series:
  • Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 and the movie has this as his "signature" noise, created by dragging his Buster Sword-sized rusty butcher knife.
  • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Sabretooth uses his nails to scratch Kayla's car before killing her.
  • *scraaaaaape, clomp. scraaaaaape, clomp. scraaaaaape, clomp.* "Doctor Frankenstein???"

  • The Famous Five: In Five on a Hike Together, Dick sleeps in a barn, and is disturbed by a scratching sound, before somebody gives him a mysterious message.
  • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: When Edmund has been tied to a tree by the White Witch, he can hear the sound of a knife being sharpened. Fortunately, Aslan's party rescues him before anything happens.
  • In the Mr. Men Annual No. 3, Mr. Jelly is terrified by a scraping sound in the park, and thinks it is a giant centipede sharpening its claws to tear him to pieces. But it is only Mr. Slow, the gardener, slowly raking the soil.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Two Minutes Hate opens with this noise (see page quote) as Emmanuel Goldstein's face appears.
  • In Dean Koontz's By the Light of the Moon, Jillian follows Dylan into a house (he had gone off to prevent a woman's murderous grandson from carrying out his plans) and hears the sound of metallic scraping and pinging noises, mentally envisioning someone sliding knives against one another. It's just a bird scraping its beak against its cage.
  • The dragging of Marley's chains in A Christmas Carol.
  • Septimus Heap
    • The Boggart scratching at Aunt Zelda's door after having been shot by the Hunter in Magyk.
    • Ephaniah Grebe scratching at the door of the refuge hut in the middle of the night in Queste.
  • In Robert R. McCammon's book Stinger, one of the characters hears a scraping sound and only sees four twisted, alien claws by peering underneath a house that's on bricks. Prudently, he runs away.
    • That's not Sweet Pea anymore....
  • During Wraith Squadron, Grinder finds a stack of boxes, each with a mantislike insect that makes a good pet inside. One scrapes insistently - scritch, scritch, scritch - on its box, so he steals it and puts it in Face's X-Wing, with the idea that he'll notice it in a routine mission and freak out. But Face doesn't. A few nights later, Grinder hears that same scritching in his room every night. Eventually he looks up the insect and finds an entry on the pet, and on its closest relative the Crystal Deceiver, which targets specific large mammalian prey, stalks them, paralyzes them, and starts feeding. Cue Grinder sealing every entrance into his room... and still the scritching continues, and it's in his room! Under his bed! He ends up fainting. Face is getting back at him for that prank and others.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
  • Gotham: Jonathan Crane returns to Arkham to get revenge on the warden who had psychologically tortured him and then taken a bribe to allow him to be kidnapped by a band of petty criminals who wanted his father's fear juice formula. Dressed in his Scarecrow outfit, Crane crosses the darkened room scraping a scythe across a restraint table, giving off sparks and making an ominous scraping sound.
  • Jonathan Creek: In the episode "The Clue of the Savant's Thumb", a subtle Sinister Scraping Sound can be heard drifting along an empty corridor as Jonathan and Joey explore the derelict convent, and again before someone is nearly crushed by a falling statue at the same location. We eventually learn that the sound is caused by a lurking hitman who habitually runs his thumb along the teeth of a metal comb.
  • Orphan Black has this as part of Helena's Leitmotif.
  • Supernatural uses this trope a lot.
    • In "Hook Man", loud scraping sounds and deep gouges herald the arrival of a murderous ghost.
    • Hellhounds, the invisible dogs that drag doomed souls to Hell, are accompanied by loud baying and a Sinister Scraping Sound.
  • In the episode "Prey" of The Walking Dead (2010), the Governor chases Andrea into a warehouse, and invokes this repeatedly while searching for her inside.

  • In The Goon Show episode "The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton":
    Bluebottle: Captain, Captain - I'm frighted, I'm frighted - I can hear someone in the ammunition hut - it sounds like a man sharpening a dirty big razor.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo uses his vampiric blood on a drifter and transforms him into a lizard-like monster. Its giant claws scrape against the ground as it charges off in pursuit of its prey.

    Urban Legend 
  • Click Clack Slide is the top half of a woman run over by a train who drags herself around looking for her childen, and is why you should be home by 6:00 PM. You know she's following you because of the clicking of her nails on the ground, and the dragging noise she makes as she crawls forward.
    • Another version is similar to the Hook-Handed Killer, but with a clockwork arm making the titular noises.
  • The Hookman, a Serial Killer who menaces young couples parked at a Make-Out Point, is said to preface his appearances by scraping his Hook Hand against the body of his potential victims' cars.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock:
    • Spider Splicers are known to do this when nearby, giving players an audible cue that bad news is coming their way.
    • Thuggish splicers can do this with their weapons (mostly metals clubs, like pipes, wrenches, etc) as well, although if they're charging like that they're probably screaming at you anyway.
  • In Clock Tower, the main antagonist (most of the time) Scissorman uses a giant pair of scissors which he scrapes together with each step.
  • A bit of a sound motif in Condemned 2: Bloodshot.
  • In Eternal Darkness, the Roivas mansion is full of creepy sounds that probably don't mean anything, but one of them is the scraping or sharpening of knives, followed by the sounds of someone being tortured on another floor...
    • One of the lesser effects of low sanity is hearing knocks and scrapes.
    • One of the terrifying effects of no sanity is hearing someone sharpening a metal instrument while a woman pleads desperately, before she starts screaming in agony.
  • One of the dungeon ambient musics in Fallout: New Vegas has these sounds.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the guillotines in the Shadow Temple make a scraping sound as they rise and fall.
    • The creepy repeating scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch-skrrrrrr... sound made by Gold Skulltulas. It's useful for finding them all to gain 100% Completion... and for keeping you awake at night.
    • The Flying Guardians in the Silent Realms scrape their swords together as they slowly but surely float towards your position.
  • In the indie horror game The Path, although nothing is explicitly shown, a sound of knives scraping is heard in the background of Scarlet's ending, leading some people to speculate that Scarlet...may have met a rather violent end.
  • From Persona 3: "Be careful! I sense Death!" A second later, you hear chains dragging across the floor...
  • In SCP – Containment Breach, the "stone-on-stone" scraping sounds that accompany SCP-173's movement.
  • The titular scratching sounds in Scratches.
  • Silent Hill 2: "Clank clank thunk scrape, Pyramid Head has come to rape!" Late in the game, James can take (and use) Pyramid Head's Great Knife.
  • The Slayers from The Suffering.
  • Thief: Hammer Haunts. First you hear the chains... then you hear the whispers... and if you don't hide, you will then hear the laughter.
  • The sound of the Dark Fall lurking nearby is usually somewhere between a deathly gasp and this trope.

  • Hyperbole and a Half: While she and Boyfriend are watching a horror film, Allie hears a sound which resembles metal grinding against metal. Initially, she's relieved when she finds it's only a honking goose, but then she remembers how aggressive geese are. Things go downhill from there.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of ReBoot the virus Gigabyte corners Bob and Dot in an alleyway and scraps his long claws along the wall as he slowly approaches them.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm" when Mr. Krabs mentions no one could take on the worm at the meeting, at that moment, a scary but brave-looking sailor man screeches his hook against the window in a moment of dramatic buildup until he simply asks where the bathroom is, only needing everyones attention for that.