Follow TV Tropes


Sound Defect

Go To
Leaf it to Linus to discover wrong sound effects.

"Hey, wait a minute! Shoes don't go 'splut!'"
Garfield, Garfield

When an in-universe problem with sound effects is Played for Laughs with the characters taking notice of the error, you've got a Sound Defect.

Contrast Wacky Sound Effect for "wrong" sound effects not noticed by the characters and Special Effect Failure, which happens when the sound effect goes unintentionally wrong, regardless of the amusement factor of said error. Also contrast Unsound Effect, which uses something that isn't really a sound at all. Broken Echo is a Sister Trope, where it's a voice that's wrong instead of a sound effect.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Achille Talon: In one comic, a Mafia henchman has a strange illness that causes every sound he makes to be rendered as a completely unrelated onomatopoeia (like whacking someone on the head with a huge "gulp" or ramming a car into a wall with a "TA-DI-DA-DI-TUUUUUUUT" sound, for instance), and his boss regularly complains about it (this is a comic where Medium Awareness is a common occurrence for its characters). The henchman is overjoyed at the end of the story to discover that he's cured when the manacles he's handcuffed with make a correct "click" sound.
  • Captain Klutz by Don Martin: Mad Scientist Dr. Rotten has his home-made missile blow up in his face, but seems more disappointed with the sound effect it produces.
    Wango? After all those years of sweat and toil, my Rotten Atomic Missle goes 'Wango'?!
  • In the Flemish absurdist comic The Final The End, the main character is working at his desk when the phone rings.
    Sound FX: SLORF!
    "I really must have that phone's onomatopoeia repaired."

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • "Scientific progress goes 'boink'?"
    • Similarly, apparently the sound effect of walking around in galoshes is "galosh galosh galosh", which makes Calvin do an Aside Glance.
  • Garfield:
    • In a gag, the doorbell only goes "Ding—". When Garfield opens the door, there's a technician from Ed's Dong Repair.
    • Garfield kicks Odie off the table with a "BLAGOONGA!" sound. He remarks on the unusual noise, then goes and tells Jon that "Odie needs tuning".
    • Garfield gets hit with a shoe that goes "SPLUT!" when it hits him. He looks off-panel and says "Shoes don't go 'splut'!", after which a pie hits him in the face with a SPLUT! sound effect.
    • Jon is pouring milk into cereal telling Garfield that it makes sounds when milk is added. The cereal makes the sound of a Klaxon.
      Cereal: AWOOGA!
      Jon: Awooga?
      Garfield: I hope it tastes better than it sounds.
  • Peanuts: The page image comes from a 1956 strip in which Linus observes a falling leaf that goes "klunk" upon hitting the ground. Fast forward to 1961, and Linus sees another falling leaf land with a "♪".
  • MAD magazine produced a couple of anthology books, one of which included rejected Sergio Aragonés margin-doodles. One rejected doodle includes a friar ringing his church's bell. Except it doesn't ring, it goes "splash," much to his confusion.

    Fan Works 
  • Ranma ½: The fanfic Genma's Daughter: The Cutting Room Floor has a running gag about this near the end. The characters are actually all actors shooting a series, and Mousse accidentally keeps playing the wrong sound effects for the scene they're doing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Laurence Olivier's film of William Shakespeare's Henry V (of all things!): During the Elizabethan-style production with which it opens, the Archbishop of Canterbury asks the Bishop of Ely, "Is it four o'clock?" A bell duly rings — three times; we see Shakespeare himself rushing backstage, the bell rings once more, and Ely replies, "It is."
  • Volere volare (To Want to Fly): The main character of this Italian film is the sound effects guy for Italian dubs of American cartoons. At one point, he's been asked to dub a serious live-action love scene, and fills it with zany cartoon noises.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Being Served?: The staff of Grace Brothers are performing a radio play. Captain Peacock's character arrives at a pub and asks for a pint. The sound effect of the pint being poured is created by a jug of water being poured into a bowl from a significant height, and sounds more like somebody urinating. Miss Brahms, playing the barmaid, says "I bet you were dying for that".
  • The Carol Burnett Show:
    • In a "Mama's Family" sketch, Tim Conway started ad-libbing about Siamese circus elephants that were joined at the trunk. He went to make the trumpeting sound they made, and it came out sounding something like, "fnork!"... which sent the rest of the cast into hysterics.
    • There were several times during the soap-opera spoof "As the Stomach Turns" when the doorbell or phone wouldn't ring until after Carol's character would say something to the effect of "I'll get it" or "I wonder who that could be."
  • Get Smart: In the episode "Moonlighting Becomes You", 99 goes undercover at a radio station that is secretly communicating messages to KAOS agents, and as the plot thickens, Max is sent undercover as the sound effects man for a dramatic series. True to form, he does an absolutely terrible job, getting almost every sound effect wrong and forcing the episode's writer and narrator, Hannibal Day (Victor Buono), to improvise as best he can as his patience wears ever thinner. It starts with Max knocking on a prop door at the cue for a doorbell, followed by ringing the doorbell when Hannibal switches to saying there was a knocking at the door, and things go downhill from there.
    Hannibal: I knew I was surrounded, and to engage in battle would prove fatal. That's when I picked up the knife, and threw it! [Max fires a blank-loaded prop gun] ... Luckily, the knife hit a gun lying on the floor and the gun fired once. [Max fires the prop gun twice more] ... Twice... maybe more... [Max fires the prop gun again] Then, I ran for the door! [Max makes clip-clop noises with a pair of coconut halves in a box of gravel] ... On my horse. But I wasn't sure if it would open or not. [Max pretends to struggle with the doorknob on the prop door to no avail; Hannibal chuckles] Yes... just what I thought. The door was hopelessly stuck! [Max accidentally opens the door with a loud creak; Hannibal scowls] ... But only for a minute. [he throws down his script in anger, and starts reading off 99's script] If it hadn't been for the landlady, I might never have been saved. Call it fate... [Max leans too heavily on the music stand with his copy of the script, and it collapses, sending him loudly floorwards] ... that caused me to fall through the trap door... [looks skyward as if to say "Why, God??"]
  • M*A*S*H: One episode has Hawkeye mock-announcing a phony baseball broadcast for Frank Burns' "benefit", with B.J., Radar, and Klinger providing sound effects. At one point Hawkeye says, "...and it's in there for a strike!" and an unthinking B.J. taps the wooden bat he's holding. After glaring at him, Hawkeye continues: "...wait a minute, he got a part of it..."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: During a host segment from the riff on The Projected Man, Crow kills Mike with the "Touch of Death". While dragging his body into the theater, Servo remembers that they had forgotten to sign off for commercial sign.
    [Servo enters stage right]
    Servo: We'll be right back.
    [Servo exits stage right]
    Crow: [off] I thought you didn't have any legs.
    Servo: [off] I—I don't.
    Crow: So where did you get the footsteps?
    Servo: Good question!
  • The Price Is Right: There were several times where the beeper on the Showcase Showdown wheel was not beeping when it was spun. The host (Bob Barker/Drew Carey) would have the audience beep for the wheel.
  • Russ Abbot: One sketch opens with a sound-effects man checking that he has all the effects necessary for a radio drama about an escape from a World War 2 prison camp. Unfortunately for him, when the recording starts it is for a Regency romance, and the rest of the sketch covers his increasingly desperate attempts to match the sounds he has to the action.
  • Saturday Night Live: In a sketch called "Pranksters", Seth Meyers hosts a show where guests show video of themselves pulling pranks on other people, accompanied by wacky sound effects. When one psycho guest shows himself actually murdering a guy in the parking lot, the FX continue, much to the host's annoyance.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? had this as a recurring game, called "Sound Effects", where they'd pull volunteers from the audience to make sound effects for a scene acted out by two of the comedians. Hilarity Ensues. In the most memorable incident, Drew Carey is reduced to tears by an inappropriately Foleyed elephant.

  • The Bonzo Dog Band' cover of the 1931 song "My Brother Makes the Noises for the Talkies" contains a reference:
    The only time he made a bungle
    was when a tiger in the jungle
    With a mighty roar, dropped dead
    With bullets in its head
    And Rob mooed like a cow instead.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic: In the video for "Fat", the second chorus's choreography goes off the rails when Al notices the exaggerated sound effects that his arm motions make, and then experiments with it.
  • The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" from A Quick One has there's a section where the chorus sings "cello, cello, cello" because the band couldn't afford real cellos.

  • The Canadian series Les 2 Minutes du Peuple had an episode with a game show in which the contestant has to guess the name of a celebrity based on the onomatopoeia being played. One fails to guess the singer Michel Delpech ("pêche" is French for peach but also a slang term for punching someone) because the host played the wrong sound effect at the end.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: Two rounds have been based on this. In "Bedtime Story", the teams have to tell a story with random sound effects being added in, and then have to make the story fit the effects. In "Human Voicebox" one team tells a story and the other has to add appropriate sound effects using only their voices, but the first team is deliberately misleading them as to what effects would be appropriate.
    Tim: It was the opening of Parliament. The Queen arrived to be greeted by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
    Barry and Graeme: [a valiant attempt at the Band of the Grenadier Guards playing "Colonel Bogey's March"]
    Tim: ...who were between numbers.
    Tony: Then the band struck up.
    Barry and Graeme: [go through the whole "Colonel Bogey" thing again]
    Tony: ...a friendship with those nice boys in the Coldstream Guards.
    Tim: The crowd waited patiently for a sight of the Queen, only to be interrupted by the sound of the band.
    Barry and Graeme: [after some hesitation, another chorus of "Colonel Bogey"]
    Tim: ...the sound of the banned protesters, who had pushed their way to the front with their anti-monarchist banners.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978): In the Tertiary Phase, the Guide decides the sound effect of the Wicket Key opening the Slo-Time Gate doesn't work, and redoes the scene with a different one.

  • The Dutch comedian Henk Elsink's song "Johanna" has several messed-up sound effects. Some of them are due to literal interpretations of metaphors, others due to wrong timing.
    Then somebody knocks on her door.
    Sound FX: [ring ring]
    Then somebody rings her doorbell.
    Sound FX: [knock knock]
    [frustrated] Then somebody knocks and rings at her door!
  • In his sketch "The Mailman", another Dutch comedian, Andre Van Duin, had several problems with a prop doorbell. At first the bell doesn't work, so he decides to say the sound effect himself: "Bell." The second time the sound does work, and when his co-actor asks, "Did you ring the bell again?" Van Duin answers, "No, the sound technician did." Based on the co-actor's corpsing after that last line, it was a joke Van Duin threw in on the spot.


    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Danger Mouse: The episode "Play it again Wufgang" went all meta with this trope: the episode's incidental music soundtrack failed, requiring Penfold to carry and operate a tapedeck everywhere.
    Danger Mouse: Are you sure that's the right tape?
  • Duck Amuck: At one point, the tormenting animator replaces the sound effects for Daffy. So when Daffy attempts to play the guitar, machine-gun sounds erupt, then the sound of a car horn. When Daffy throws down the guitar in disgust, there's a gunshot and the braying of a donkey. When Daffy tries to protest, sounds of a rooster, a kookaburra, and a kitten come out.
  • Family Guy: In the episode "Excellence in Broadcasting", Brian moves in with Rush Limbaugh and replaces several of his belongings with shoddy, American-made ones. He also got him a new cat that moos at him.
  • Garfield and Friends had a whole episode about this, called "Sound Judgment." The show's sound effects guy quits and Garfield has Odie fill in for him. Every sound effect for the rest of the episode is completely random and inappropriate, down to every footstep being a different random sound. The sole exception being the herd of elephants near the end, which Garfield mistakes for Odie's incompetence at doing sound effects.
  • Gerald McBoing-Boing. Well, when he started talking, you know what he said? He didn't talk words, he went "Boing! Boing!" instead.
  • Richard Scarry's Best Silly Stories and Songs Video Ever!: In the segment "Mr. Fix-It Fixes It", Mr. Fix-It has to fix Freddy's tricycle horn, Fireman Ralph's siren, Grandma Bear's cuckoo clock, and Lily Bunny's doll, by 3 o' clock. All of the items aren't making their proper sounds anymore (e.g. Freddy's horn doesn't honk) which is why they need them fixed. Once Mr. Fix-It repairs the items, the characters then go to use the items. However, they find that Mr. Fix-It got the sound effects all mixed up. They then proceed to sing a song about what if all sound effects got mixed up.
  • The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XVII," based on the Orson Welles radio play The War of the Worlds.
    Orson Welles: The devastation is incredible! They're grinding up the bodies of human beings!
    [sound technician uses an eggbeater to grind up corn flakes]
    Welles: Now they're riding horses in the rain!
    [sound technician clacks coconut halves against a wooden board while pouring water into a metal tray]
    Welles: Now they're playing the xylophone while bowling near an airport!
    [sound technician holds up sign reading "Screw you" and leaves]
  • The Smurfs (1981): The episode "Unsound Smurfs" has the Smurflings and Baby look for a wizard that is responsible for all the sounds in the world to find the one that can break an Unbreakable barrier surrounding Smurf Village. The Smurflings proceed to meddle in his lab, causing all the sounds in the world to go out of whack; among other things causing a squirrel to moo.
  • Teen Titans Go!: One episode sees all of the world's sounds stolen by an unexpectedly cutesy villain. Inexplicably, the Titans are able to create new sounds for the lost ones by mimicking the lost sound enough times, causing the new (often poorly made) sound to take over for the stolen one. The Titans recognize that the results aren't perfect (every incidence of a new sound is exactly alike with zero variation), but accept it anyway, at least until they can get Earth's noises back where they belong (with a few other sound placement hiccups along the way, which they point out).