Kokonoe: Ah yes, well, no reason not to tell you. First, I intended to take his [INFERNO DIVIDER!] and put it in a [CARNAGE SCISSORS!] Maybe a little [GAUNTLET HADES!] too? Heh, my goodness, I can only imagine what his [HELL'S FANG!] will [DEAD SPIKE!]
A sound effect is used to cover up a naughty word. This is often used to let a character to say something rude in a show where Media Watchdogs would undoubtedly leap on it otherwise. It's the audio equivalent of Scenery Censor.
Strangely enough, the bleep effect often makes the joke funnier than if the swear word had actually been used (thus forming the premise of Censored for Comedy comedy). This is particularly true when it's used to cover up a Cluster F-Bomb. This is likely because profanity is often a mundane occurrence in real-life conversation, whereas loud, incongruous bleeps are not. Unfortunately, it can have the same effect on scenes that are supposed to be serious.
In television, typically a 1kHz sine wave.
Compare with Symbol Swearing, Narrative Profanity Filter, and T-Word Euphemism. Contrast with Seven Minute Lull, or Plot-Based Voice Cancellation. Also compare to Gag Censor, which is the visual equivalent.
See also Jackhammered Conversation.
- [TU-WHIT!] Anime and [TU-WHO!] Manga
- [BA-LUMPH!] Film
- Live-Action [CHOP!] TV
- [PLUNK!] Music
- [BZORCH!] Radio
- Video [YEEOW!] Games
- Web [KABOOM!] Original
- Western [CHUKONG!] Animation
- In Season 7 episode 10 of Happy Heroes, the Supermen observe that Ambassador Wang and Ambassador Miao are having a fight that has escalated to the point that their yelling has multiple censor bleeps peppered in them - a fact that Smart S. lampshades. (Being a children's show, Happy Heroes doesn't use censor bleeps officially. This is meant as a one-off joke.)
- A radio spot for Hewlett-Packard which revolved around a parody of automated call centers featured this trope: "Your call is very important to us. If you believe this, please stay on the line, or press 1 if you think we don't give a *beep*"
- Played with during an Aflac commercial that takes place on a construction site. Every time the duck mascot tried to give the company's name, he was invariably drowned out by a jackhammer, a truck horn, etc.
- There was a commercial for Knorr instant dinners where the word frozen is bleeped out so it sounds like they are dropping the f-bomb a lot for no reason. And then the announcer says "Frozen doesn't have to be a bad word."
- This beer commercial features a "swear jar" encouraging the use of profanity, getting out of hand to such an extent that you can almost only hear bleeping in one speech at the end.
- A 2008 Macintosh commercial has PC explaining that Microsoft is no longer using the term "Vista", and pressing a Big Red Button to attempt to bleep Mac whenever he says the word, with little success.
- The commercials for "Powermat" has the sound that the Powermat makes when it starts charging something to censor the actors' cursing.
- They actually double the use of this trope in that the actors are saying "beep" instead of cursing.
- This '90s commercial for Designer Imposters, with Ali Larter. "And spray it on your *beep*".
- Rockwell tools shows a guy complaining because he can't use his [beep sound effect] tool (from some other company). The white-coated scientist comes in and says, "At Rockwell, we have a whole department so you don't end up with bleeping tools you can't use."
- In Don't Say, "Dannit", Lynn Sr. says, "Dang it", which he thinks is profanity, and hopes his horn blocked it out so that baby Lily didn't hear.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero Fujiwara is interrupted this by a car horn when calling Tachibana a bi-[HONK].
- The "Fluttery Tate" short of PONIES The Anthology II uses Fluttershy's soft "Yay" from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Sonic Rainboom.''
- Used, lampshaded and Played for Laughs in the Harry Potter/Naruto crossover Uzumaki Harry by Shadow Chrystal Mage.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lee Jordan calls a player on the opposing team a "filthy, cheating bastard", but in print, only the "b" part is heard, as Professor McGonagall's own shouting at the player drowns it out. For once she didn't pay attention to Jordan's language (or favoritism, or any other junk Jordan pulls regularly while commentating).
- Used oddly in Chamber of Secrets. The teachers are patrolling the corridors at night due to the monster attacks, but Team Harry has to sneak out to do something so they drape Harry's Invisibility Cloak over themselves. As they pass Snape, Ron stubs his toe and swears. Luckily, Snape sneezes at the same time. Given the context, it's likely the word that was covered up was "shit".
- In the Artemis Fowl series, particularly the eighth book, The Last Guardian, "bleep" itself seems to be an actual Gnommish profanity. At least one character shouts "What the bleep?!" in confusion.
- In the Xanth series novel Yon Ill Wind, The Adult Conspiracy magically censors swearwords so that children will not hear them. If children do swear, the word is bleeped. This appears to be an upgrade from the original Conspiracy. The previous book, Roc and a Hard Place, centered around the issue of speaking a profanity in the presence of a minor and referred to events from The Color of Her Panties, where the Conspiracy and swear words were also significant points. And note the novels have always used Symbol Swearing in print.
- Tough Magic has outtakes in the back of the books, one of which has the Author's attempt to curse beeped out.
- Used in L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth "dekalogy" to (bleep) out any word more objectionable than "damn" or "hell," which includes (bleep)tch and (bleep)ard. This is to avoid upsetting the delicate sensibilities of the robots supposedly translating this story so it can be published on Earth, who oddly enough don't censor all the murder, rape, murder-then-rape, torture, underage sex, etc. that happens in the story. Also, several racial slurs make it through without incident.
- Played with in Night Watch, where Archchancellor Ridcully's swearing is drowned out by the tolling of the bell in the University's clock tower — which, being a magical bell in a magical University, makes silence instead of noise, giving the effect of a less diagetic kind of censorship.
Ridcully: Now, will care to tell m at the is going on?
- In-Universe in the Known Space series, where "Bleep" and "Censor" have BECOME swear words due to language drift. Lucas Garner is extremely smug about actually remembering why.
- "Conversation Piece" from the musical Wonderful Town:
Chick: Boy, it's hot! Reminds me of that time in Panama... I was down there on a story... I was in this, well, dive, and there was this broad there... What was her name?... Marquita?... Maroota?... Ah, what's the difference what her name was? That dame was built like a brick sh—
(Sudden cymbal crash and discordant outburst, followed by frantic ensemble repeating refrain "Nice people, nice talk")
- In The Complete History Of America Abridged, when the male and female voices announcing the Civil War slideshow get into an argument with each other, several epithets are censored by the same beep sound used for slide transitions. (The slides are lost, by the way.)
- In an example of Painting the Medium, Hamilton bleeps out the line "Sit down, John, you fat motherfuckstick!" This line occurs during the Adams administration, who supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, which criminalized criticizing the government. Elsewhere in the play, use of "fuck" is uncensored.
- The picture above comes from Gunnerkrigg Court.
- Curiously averted earlier in the same chapter when this girl used the phrase "Goddam it!" without being censored.
- There's also this.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, both time the Doctor tries to say "Motherf-", he gets interrupted by someone shouting "He said a bad word!"
- This Adventurers! strip.
- 8-Bit Theater also has at least one.
- Schlock Mercenary used a bleep-concealing box on several occasions, often to hilarious effect.
- Ozy and Millie had a one-off joke in which Avery was shown using Beep noises every other word, having mistaken the beeps as actual swears, and brushed Ozy off when he tried to correct him.
- 'Sluggy Freelance has an alternate dimension, the Dimension of Lame, where absolutely nothing evil or nasty exists in any way. As such, when a character tries to say "hell", it gets covered by a bleep, meaning that it actually says says a bleep.
- This DM of the Rings, where Gimli rolls a 1 on his diplomacy check with the Rohirrim.
- Dominic Deegan uses this on a regular basis, though usually by another character interrupting and covering the word or something happens where the art can cover the word.
- In Erfworld, the universe literally *boops* out any profanities, even written ones.
- It's a rather important plot point when this stops happening.
- Played with in strip of 'Tempts Fate', the fund-raising spinoff from Goblins.
- In The 10 K Commotion, after experimenting with a few variations to deal with the occasional (or in the case of Pict, not so occasional) swear-word, the author eventually settled on censor bars with cleaner alternatives, such as "Don't this *music* make a *nice guy* wanna jump?" or "Crimony!".
- In this strip, when the victim discovers that her date might be involved with another man- exactly as he arrives to take her on a date. (Un)luckily, Not What It Looks Like.
- Not shown directly, but in Grrl Power when Sydney is interviewed on national television she doesn't tone down her language, and eventually the person in charge of real-time censoring pleads with her to stop via the news crawl.
- Also creatively used by the BBC News in 1960 (from BBC TV From AP):
When News & Newsreel started in 1954, being run by News Division from radio, it was decreed that nothing was to be added that hadn't actually happened on the news story. So no music, no sound effects, etc. Just the bare bones, which meant that often it was largely just still pictures with a Voice Over, 'Frozen Radio' as someone called it.
But eventually they did get over this drawback, and one day around 1960, when we were dubbing a news story about aircraft, and it contained an interview with a Group-Captain Chester (or similar name), it was discovered that in editing, part of the man's title had been cut off the sound, reducing him to 'plop' Captain Chester..... Well, what to do about it, the Group-Captain would probably object..... 'Can't we "hide" it somehow?' someone said, and I found a disc of a jet fly-past, to spin in just at that crucial moment.
And they used to say that the News shouldn't be 'fixed'...
- An unusual example was done by an audience at a wrestling promotion. At the previous show, the general manager complained about the language used by the audience. At the next show, the chant "Holy Shit" was verbally beeped out—by the word "Beep". ; the chant became "Holy Beep". The general manager found it HILARIOUS.
- The infamous tapes by Richard Nixon were censored by Nixon himself. As documented by the film Nixon:
Nixon: Have you lost your mind? Look, Al! Nixon can't say this! "Niggers". Niggers?! It can't say that! We could delete it... Would you have us black it out, sir? We could write "expletive deleted." Cut all these 'goddamns' and 'Jesus Christs' out.President's Lawyer: Jesus. Mr. President. Don't you see that all these deletion marks in the transcripts make it look as though you... you do nothing but swear?
- According to rumor, the Chinese government tested censoring Chinese swear words with the "BEEEEP" sound. Unfortunately and hilariously, the common Chinese insult "stupid bitch" is "Sha Bi", pronounced "shah bee". Therefore, censors resulted in "shah beeeeep". Unsurprisingly, the censor was not put into effect.
- John Wilkes Booth waited until the funniest line in the play "Our American Cousin" was delivered to shoot President Lincoln because he had seen the play before and hoped that moment would produce enough laughter to drown out the sound of the gunshot.
- US fitness center chain Planet Fitness does not take kindly to people who grunt while lifting weights or dropping weights. So all of their locations make use of a "lunk alarm", a rotating blue light and air raid siren that is activated briefly to drown out the noise if someone is caught doing it.
- During this TED talk in Vilnius, Lithuania, two guys named Valentinas and Viaceslavas are playing Jew's harps. During their introduction to their performance (about 1:17 in), Viaceslavas puts his harp up to his mouth as Valentinas says:
Valentinas: In spite of [the fact that the] Jew's harp is quite [a] well-known instrument in the world, I'm sure that there are people who still think, "Hmm. Jew's harp. What the [boing] is that?"
- If you ask the Amazon Alexa to say curse words, they will be beeped out.