Something really bad, such as horribly off-tune singing or bad poetry, being almost weaponized, or at least being traumatizing. The horribleness of it can range from giving nightmares, to blowing up cities.
In Real Life, it's fairly common to at least describe a very bad movie as being "painful to watch", or to say that it "hurts to read" a bad book. The concept of an "eyesore" isn't limited to English either; Japanese has migurushii (見苦しい), literally "painful to look at".
Can overlap with Anything but That!, Faux Horrific, Comical Overreacting, Dreadful Musician, Even Evil Has Standards (if a villain decides a work would be too horrible to inflict). A Critic Breakdown will often to invoke this regarding the offending piece.
Compare/Contrast Awesomeness Is Volatile.
- A 1980s advert for Castela Classic cigars featured comedian Russ Abbot going fishing in a rather unusual way. He put on a record of Des O'Connor's Greatest Hits and lowered a speaker into the water, then sat back with his cigar. As he watched, the horrified fish leapt out of the water and into his net.
- Blink and you'll miss it, but in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Itoshki-sensei's suicide kit, filled with poisons, pills and all manner of lethalities, also contains an Enya CD (though it might also just be relaxing suicide mood-music).
- In CLANNAD, Kotomi Ichinose's violin playing is so terrible that people collapse into the fetal position clutching their heads in extreme pain whenever she plays. She's oblivious to this and thinks her playing sounds beautiful.
Tomoya: [to students, after interrupting Kotomi's introduction] And her weapon is the violin: it only takes 0.2 seconds before sound waves come out from the moment she takes position. The number of people she's felled is countless.
- Chapter 25 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun has Sakura and Nozaki reacting badly to Kashima's tone-deaf singing, to the point that they're crawling on the ground in agony.
- Shirogane's singing in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War approaches Brown Note levels and has been compared to having sea cucumber guts shoved in your ears. That's not even getting into his rapping, which caused Fujiwara to collapse and start foaming at the mouth.
- In Asterix, Cacofonix's music is so bad, it's the only thing that can teach the meaning of fear to the Normans. In fact, short exposure to it mentally scars them. It also summons thunderstorms and drives the wildlife away.
- Ren and Stimpy's "U.S.Ohhhhhh Noooooo!": The army has Ren and Stimpy drag a horrible comedian on a platform with speakers through a battlefield, causing their enemies to run in fear while one of them clutches his ears and shouts "Oh the Humanity!"
- Mortadelo y Filemón:
- Crappy music and films are used as a method of torture. The title characters are tortured by their boss with an LP of Spanish blockbuster songs (apparently repeated ad infinitum). They are driven mad, and other characters talk about the cruelty.
- Also repeated speeches by a politician. In later albums these are often replaced with whatever sensationalist TV show or politician speech Ibáñez seems to have a problem with at the moment.
- Superlópez: In Los Alienígenas, captured alien spy Xonxa boasts that her shape-shifting species is virtually unkillable:
Xonxa: Our bodies are like rubber! My people only die of old age or boredom.
Superlópez: Funny you should mention that: we happen to have this big collection of Manolo Escobar films...
- In the incredibly long author's introduction to My Inner Life, Jenna fails to understand hyperboled criticism that claims this.
Jenna: Also as a side note, I NEVER physically hurt ANYONE with this story. I got one reviewer that said. "Oh God please stop writing, your hurting everyone." Now I want to know where I physically touched that person. I want to know how I'm twisting anyone's arms to read this. I have never done anything of the sort in any way, shape or form and I DO NOT appreciate being accused of that!
- The Chosen Four: The last thing the ghosts scare the heroes with while on the tunnel to Threed is a copy of Superman 64. Doubles as a Take That! to the game.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series Marik being forced to watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua was so horrible it drove him to evil.
- The song "Puberty Love" in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! is so bad, it defeats the tomatoes. Not that they were weak against music, but that this song was so awful, that even the sheet music had this effect.
- A similar trick involving Slim Whitman works on the invading Martians of Mars Attacks!.
- In the movie Top Secret!, after the Nazis have been psychologically and physically torturing Nick Rivers only for it not to break him...
"Do you want me to break out the LeRoy Neiman paintings?"
"No. We cannot risk violating the Geneva Convention."
- In Ghost, Sam's ghost gets Oda Mae to cooperate with him by singing (excruciatingly badly) "I Am Henry the Eighth, I Am" over and over till she can't stand it anymore. When told of this, Molly reveals that Sam did the same thing to get her to go on their first date.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Vogon poetry, which is used in-universe as a torture device, and the poetry of the Azgoths of Kria, which has literally killed several listeners. There's a poet on Earth, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, who's worse than both of them, but we are mercifully spared its effects (the poet named after Paul Neil Milne Jennings, a friend of Douglas Adams).
- Similarly, the Discworld's Nac Mac Feegle have Gonnagles, bards whose poetry is so bad that it's used on the battlefield. They are presumably named for the legendarily-bad Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall.
- The "plot" of Mystery Science Theater 3000 involves a Mad Scientist attempting to find a movie so bad it could be weaponized.
- And they've come close a few times. Monster a-Go Go is generally agreed to be one of, if not the worst movie ever featured on the show. The Castle of Fu Manchu is, if anything, worse. "Manos" The Hands of Fate was so god-awful that Dr. Forrester and Frank were actually apologizing to Joel for making him watch it. And Invasion of the Neptune Men was such an ordeal that Mike and the 'bots had to take turns stepping out of the theater for a few moments, and were only cheered up afterward by a surprise visit from Krankor.
- Once Pearl took over, she used Hobgoblins as a punishment - mentioning "the movie" made Bobo scream, she kept it in the Ark of the Covenant, the 'Bots took turns trying to flee during the opening credits, and eventually they put up cardboard cutouts and tried to sneak away.
- Also used for particularly dull, monotonous sequences in the movies, such as the "rock climbing" segment of Lost Continent and the sandstorm section of Hercules Against the Moon Men, the latter of which was presaged by the mads saying, "DEEP HURTING. DEEEEEEP HUUUUURRRRRTING!"
- Star Force Fugitive Alien 2 was so terrible Tom Servo's head exploded less than thirty minutes in.
- Red Zone Cuba was so bad not only did it drive Mike and eventually the 'bots insane, it drove the Mads insane.
- Averted in Spiritual Successor The Film Crew, where Mike, Kevin and Bill work for a Cloudcuckoolander CEO who thinks the bad movies are just awesome. The guys themselves never despair — at worst, they suffer Brain Bleach moments with a giggle.
- A story arc in Kamen Rider Double features a street musician whose singing (a rock-rap fusion he calls "spilk") is so horrible it kills birds in mid-flight and causes an earthquake. The conflict comes from his winning an American Idol-style TV show despite his competition including actually competent singers (as well as members of AKB48 in Real Life), who hire the detective protagonist because they're sure the guy's cheating.
- This is the constant reaction to Sophie's Bad "Bad Acting" in Leverage. Eliot once called one of her performances the "worst night of [his] life," a statement that was juxtaposed with a flashback to him being forced to play Russian Roulette alone by some unsavory-looking brutes. As Parker once said, quoting a reviewer:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- "Fool for Love". In one of Spike's flashbacks, an aristocrat says of his poetry, "I would rather have a railway spike rammed through my skull than listen to that drivel." Considering that when Spike was first introduced, Giles had mentioned that he was infamous for impaling people with railway spikes, he may well have been Tempting Fate.
- An earlier episode showed Giles grimacing his way through Talent Show auditions, particularly Cordelia's rendition of 'The Greatest Love of All.'
- "Nossan", the Blue Ranger of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger is known for his bad puns. While they usually tend to only conjure a tumbleweed when used, there was an instance where his jokes were so bad they gave the monster responsible for the last great Ice Age a case of the chills.
- Red Dwarf: When imprisoned in season 8, Lister and Rimmer find that the inmates of Red Dwarf's secret prison are forced to watch god-awful B-movies (such as Attack of the Giant, Savage, Completely Invisible Aliens, which openly admits in the trailer that it's "horrible"). Rimmer speculates that it's a deliberate effort on the staff's part to sap their morale.
Rimmer: Next month is George Formby season. [in an imitation of Formby] Git yer hang'ing rope while there's still some left! Hey-hey!
- In 'Allo 'Allo!, Madame Edith's singing is god-awful enough that it can cause Nazi officers and hardened resistance fighters alike to flee the building (or at least to stuff cheese in their ears). The only thing worse is a sensual song-and-dance by her eighty-year-old mother Fanny.
- In Old Harry's Game, writers in Hell are forced to listen to dialogue from Jeffrey Archer's books.
- Bleak Expectations:
Sir Phillip Bin: A cat was clawing my lap, a bird was pecking out my spleen, my belt was too tight, and an unconvincing medical drama was on.
- When Pip Bin winds up in Hell, Mr. Benevolent tortures him by tying him up, then putting a cat on his lap so it will claw him incessantly, summoning a wren to peck out his spleen, tying his belt too tight, and placing in Pip's view a TV showing Holby City. Pip Bin considers this an even worse fate than all three of the other tortures combined.
Pip Bin:' Ah, cat! Ah, spleen! Ah, trousers! Oh, for goodness' sake, that's not how a real'' person talks in a medical emergency!
Pip Bin: Surely it can't be that bad.
- A few episodes later, Mr. Benevolent abducts Pip's wife Ripely, and makes her read celebrity autobiographies. She laments the simplistic "yet clearly ghostwritten" prose, and worse, the terrible puns every title has.
Ripely: (acidly) You try reading Florence Nightingale's From Bad, to Nurse
- The villains of the Paranoia adventure Clones in Space are aliens with a finely developed aesthetic sense. Their torturers primarily make use of human pop culture (country music, the Three Stooges) to extract confessions. The Troubleshooters are unaffected, while the torturers (and Game Master) cover their ears and writhe in agony.
Sasha: Say something hideous and horrible jumps out at you, something so disgusting that it simply must die.
[he pushes a button; a tiffany lamp appears]
Sasha: Ach! So... tacky... can't... look... directly at it...
- Inga Wagner's singing in No One Lives Forever. Mooks are relieved when she "punishes" them by forcing them to miss her singing performances.
- In Sonic Heroes, Team Chaotix' "Team Blast" involves Espio and Charmy playing musical instruments while Vector sings extremely badly. Like all other Team Blasts, this destroys all the enemies in the surrounding area, purely from the awfulness (and possibly the volume) of Vector's singing.
- One of the books you can study in Persona 4 is a "ploddingly-written romantic comedy about a girl on her first day of school in a new town. Vampires are involved.". The narration explicitly says "the content of this book was almost physically painful for you to read". It boosts your Diligence stat, presumably for pressing through and finishing the whole thing despite how bad it is.
- In Fallout 2, after finding out that a minor villain calls himself Frog Morton because "he croaks people," your only choice of response is "Ohhhh. Ouch. That's terrible. The pain, the pain!" The person who tells you it says that a pun that bad is another reason to kill him.
- Undead Warlock Tehd Shoemaker in World of Warcraft: Legion has this reaction to the Burning Legion's slapdash efforts in summoning more demons for their invasion.
Legion: This physically hurts me and I haven't felt real pain in decades.
- A sidequest in Borderlands 2 has you helping Scooter compose a love poem. The result (with lines like "You are a diamond in the rough / or a flower surrounded by shrapnel and stuff") is so awful the intended recipient calmly walks back into her house and blows her brains out.
- Astos in 8-Bit Theater was taken down by a combination of Red Mage and Black Mage's attempts at a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
- In Minion Comics one of the torture options is a Comedy Central special: George Lopez: It's Funny Because He's Hispanic.
- The Order of the Stick suggests Céline Dion as a weapon of torture. Never used, since Nale is still civilized.
- Inverted in this Cyanide & Happiness strip. A character's drunkenness is cured by a bad joke.
- One of the attempts to scare the protagonists by the ghosts in "The Chosen Four" was a copy of Superman 64
- In El Goonish Shive, Elliot looks up an unnamed movie (stated by Word of God to be Jack and Jill) on Rotten Tomatoes, and finds that it's only listed as 4% fresh. However, the important thing is the one visible review: "I'd rather have my wisdom teeth removed again..."
- That Guy with the Glasses: This is kind of the Nostalgia Critic's whole schtick, except when he's reviewing something that's actually good or doing a top-eleven countdown. A lot of the reviewers on his site, in fact.
- When The Nostalgia Critic reviewed Junior, he saw the baby dream with the greenscreen face of Arnold on the baby, and it made him scream like a girl, and then vomit all over the place.
- Linkara in Atop the Fourth Wall, driven mad by a bad pun ("Re-Todd") in Countdown: "ANTI-LIFE JUSTIFIES MY HATE! Anti-life justifies my haaaaaattteee... [breaks down sobbing]"
- Angry Joe accuses Sonic Free Riders of "Assault in the First Degree to knowingly inflict bodily harm."
- Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was so hard on The Nostalgia Chick that she'd rather go through "seven holocausts" than watch it again.
- The 4Kids version of the One Piece theme song reduces MarzGurl to angrish and crying.
- Todd in the Shadows:
- He writhes in pain at a musical number of Hannah Montana: The Movie.
- "Break Up" by Mario feat. Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett makes his hair fall out in clumps and his nose bleed. Later he claims he's lucky it didn't give him cancer.
- Parodied in his review of Rihanna's "S&M", saying he doesn't get BDSM and likes the song even though he thinks it's a very flawed song without any virtues, only to realize he likes the song because he's a masochist.
- Diamanda Hagan follows the cast of Project Million into the "It's a Small World" ride. She doesn't take it too well.
- Spoony of The Spoony Experiment has a few videos listed under the title of "Experience BIJ", Bij being Klingon for "punishment"note ; the videos themselves largely consist of whatever Spoony has seen on the internet which is horribly annoying, and the goal is to see how long you can watch the videos without pausing, going to another window, or muting it. Few can make it.
- The Cinema Snob:
- He experienced this in the aftermath of watching Video Violence — about three years later, as he was reviewing its sequel, he had just recovered from the debilitating effects.
- Gross Out manages not to set him off with its Vulgar Humor antics... but the lead actress's horrible performance makes him vomit.
- Also, Nukie. The entire episode.
- Oancitizen of Brows Held High shouts out "OW!" after The Reveal in Zardoz that Zed's religion is based on The Wizard of Oz.
- JesuOtaku once stated that attempting to watch Ikki Tousen left him "in physical pain".
- Observing the effects of bad writing on a 'verse can cause Agents of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum to spork their eyes out, Go Mad from the Revelation, or get a headache.
- This is the reason The Agony Booth named itself after the pain device from Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Pretty much the central theme of the Banana Phone flash animation.
- The resident Pungeon Master of the Spoiler Warning Let's Play group occasionally makes puns so bad they make the other members groan.
- Of the Freelance Astronauts, Ferr is usually the one making painful puns (pipes!: "Solve my maze!" Ferr: Well, it's on fire, so maybe you should salve it first. Evek: I'm in physical pain!), but occasionally, Maxwell gets in on it. Witness the final boss fight of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest, where he tells the others that Ganondorf "really puts the 'try' in 'Triforce'."
Evek: That was fucking painful!
- The Angry Video Game Nerd:
- During his first attempt to review Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for the NES, the Nerd spoke about it being so bad that it traumatized him, and had a hard time bringing himself to playing it.
- Later, he would go to review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and said this about the ending:
Nerd: What's the best way to end a shitty movie? With a shitty ending. One so bad that it leaves me scarred for life.
- The AVGN Movie and episodes leading up to it established his phobia of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He couldn't even stand to look at the cartridge, and vomited after watching a sequel of it for a few seconds.
- TV Trash: Chris "Rowdy" Moore is scarred by the pilots for "Heil Honey I'm Home!" and "The Groovenians". The former sends him into a depression, and the latter has him taking pills.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-504 enforces this. A tomato that will fly at high speed toward the source of bad humor. The worse the pun, the harder it hits.
Item: Three mature SCP-504 tomatoes, one for each test subject.
Subject: After the introduction to the following news item, Bomb blows hole in Lenin statue, the three following jokes were made.
Test Subject 1: Ooh, that's gonna leave a Marx.
Result: Tomato number one "twitched", but did not displace from its original location.
Test Subject 2: BBC is just Stalin the good news.
Result: Tomato clocked at 152 mph. Chipped tooth and hairline jaw fracture.
Test Subject 3: That blows.
Result: Tomato clocked at [REDACTED]. Subject is hospitalized with a massive skull fracture.
- SF Debris:
- Reviewing the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Angel One": The perfume scene is met with cries of "Oh, for the love of God! Five, there are five lights! Five!", calling back to the torture scene from "Chain of Command".
- In Comic History 8, he puts forward the idea that Rob Liefeld put forth a comic so bad that it actually gave Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald a fatal heart attack.
- Pat the NES Punk:
- In the review of action 52, he starts this trope and expanded on it more and more as the review went on. He started out self-confident, trying to find a decent game in the compilation. As the review went on, he started praying to find a decent game. At the very end of the review you can see him literally faint.
- The antagonist in Pat the NES Punk's M82 madness hoped that Pat would achieve the same effect when he would review "awful" games on his M82. Sadly, most of those so called "awful" games turned out not to be as awful as the antagonist thought they were, with Pat even saying that those games weren't even bad, which only made the antagonist more angry.
- The That Post Gave Me Cancer meme.
- The Mysterious Mr. Enter has strongly reconsidered using the words "painful to watch" after his review of an episode of The Problem Solverz; that is, in no way, implying that his Animated Atrocities subjects wouldn't qualify for the phrase in the metaphorical sense, but the aforementioned episode's bright and constantly-shifting coloring made the episode physically painful for him to watch, even worsening his myopia.
- South Park:
- In one episode', the Ewok-filled special edition of Raiders of the Lost Ark was so horrible it had the same effect as the ark in the actual movie, killing George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. Spielberg and Lucas came back in a later episode, though.
- "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining": The boys go on a camping trip that is apparently so painfully dull that it killed Kenny (though Word of God says this one doesn't count).
- On The Critic, Roger Ebert was interviewing a potential new partner and showed him the kind of bad movies he'd have to watch. A version of Mrs. Doubtfire with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role fully skeletonized him.
- The poetry of PedXing in Dave the Barbarian has this effect on everyone but Dave and Princess Irmaplotz.
- An episode of SpongeBob SquarePants revolves around Patrick's self-composed song, which is so awful that it actually kills the band that records it. Also, there's Squidward's clarinet skills.
- Squidward's dancing is unbearable to watch that it hurts people's eyes, and makes some throw up. His art doesn't fare much better, seeing how it literally burns people's heads off.
- A cutaway gag for Family Guy. Peter and a young girl stand in the living room, and she hands him a tape but warns him that if he watches it, he will die. Peter plays it on the VCR. The tape in question turns out to be Mannequin; in the next scene Peter dies with a contorted appearance, similar to victims of The Ring.
- At one point in Futurama, Bender auditions for a part on the Show Within a Show when a role opens up. His lousy "Spanish accent" prompts this response from Calculon (who is a robot):
Calculon: That was so terrible, I think you gave me cancer!
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "One of Us", this trope is how Jimmy describes The Happy Show Show after his hypnotized friends convince him to watch it.
Jimmy: I thought my TV would explode! I thought I might faint from the show's supreme stankiness!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Pinkie Pie's "You Gotta Share, You Gotta Care" song. It is so awful that two warring tribes only strengthen their resolve to go to war after she performs it once. The second performance, when the tribes are RIGHT on the precipice of a truce immediately before commencing battle, makes the chief of one tribe so enraged that he leads his people into battle simply because the song pissed him off so much.
- In "Maud Pie", Pinkie's sister Maud comes to visit, and the rest of Pinkie's friends find her stoic, anti-social, and only interested in rocks. At one point, Twilight asks Maud about her poetry and Maud provides a sample. Twilight's reaction shows how bad this poetry is, and it's only the tip of the iceberg.
- The Yogi's Treasure Hunt episode "Yogi's Heroes" had Dick Dastardly and Muttley capturing Snooper and Blabber and forcing them to watch episodes of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. Blabber even states that it will turn their brains to mush.
- On Star vs. the Forces of Evil, while Star likes her crush Oskar's keytar music, in his first appearance his terrible playing causes everyone else to writhe on the ground in pain.
- Ed's violin music in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Pain in the Ed" is literally painful to listen to since it's able to peel bark and crack stone from the sound alone. Even better, a musical note manifests itself from Ed's violin and caves in Eddy's face like a dropped bowling ball!