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Sound-Effect Bleep
aka: Sound Effects Bleep

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Noel: Miss Kokonoe, what were you going to do with Mr. Ragna the Bloodedge after you had put him to sleep?
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!]
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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.

Sometimes used in the service of The Unreveal, or to cut a curse short.

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.

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See also Jackhammered Conversation.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Asian [RING-A-DING-DING!] 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.)

    [CRUNCH!] Commercials 
  • 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."
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    Fan [POW!] Fiction 

    [KABLOOIE!] Literature 
  • 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.

    [BING!] Pinball [CRACK!]  
  • Medieval Madness: One of Lord Howard Hurtz's introductory clips is "I'm Howard Hurtz, who the [BEEP] are you?" An operator control allowed the unbleeped version instead.
  • If "Adult Mode" is turned off for Metallica, the game's numerous profanities are bleeped out.

    Pod [YODELAYHEHOOOO!] Casts 

    [PHEE-OO-WEET!]Theater 
  • "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.

    Web [ZIP!] Comics 

    Real [RAT-TAT-TAT!] Life 
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Sound Effects Bleep, Bleep

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