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Voice Change Surprise

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A character will open their mouth to say something, and what comes out is ... rather odd. A common reaction is for the character to cover their mouth with one or both hands (or, alternatively, grab their throat); they will also frequently ask something along the lines of "Did that come out of me?"

Two variations exist:

  1. The character speaks in a voice that doesn't sound like their own.
  2. The character emits an odd sound effect, or an animal call.

This trope is generally Played for Laughs, though it can occasionally be used for dramatic purposes. It's also much more commonly used in animated works than in live-action.

Compare Do I Really Sound Like That?, Baffled by Own Biology, and Vocal Dissonance. See also Stumbling in the New Form.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Brother Bear 2: The shamaness Innoko casts a spell on Nita to allow her to speak to Kenai, who is a bear. Nita gives it a try — and proceeds to trumpet like a mammoth/elephant. She tries again, only to chitter like a monkey. She gets it right on the third try.
  • Pinocchio: When Lampwick, who has halfway transformed into a donkey, asks if he looks like a jackass, Pinocchio laughs and says he does before braying loudly, much to his shock. That's when he realizes that the same thing is going to happen to him, too. Lampwick is equally horrified when he also brays, asking if it was he who made the sound. Then he realizes what's happening, and fully transforms into a donkey.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: In the chase for the potion which would make Kuzco human again, the second last potion lands on Yzma, turning her into a cat. Seizing the final vial offscreen, she says "Looking for this?" before startling herself with how squeaky her voice became.
    Yzma: Is that my voice? (cough) Is that my voice?
  • Subverted in The Lion King. When the hyenas have Simba and Nala cornered, Simba tries to intimidate them with a roar, though it comes out sounding more like a screeching house cat (justified in that he's still just a cub). An unimpressed Shenzi mockingly dares him to try again; this time, they hear a mighty adult lion's roar, startling all present. In case it wasn't obvious, the second roar came from Mufasa, who charges in from off-camera and proceeds to clean the hyenas' clock.
  • Near the end of The Little Mermaid, after the seashell containing Ariel's voice has been shattered and the voice has returned to its rightful owner, Ursula attempts to tell Eric to get away from Ariel. She's visibly startled to hear herself speaking with her own voice, instead of the stolen one she's been using for the past day or so.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Even though Queen Grimhilde expected her disguise potion to turn her into a Scratchy-Voiced Senior, she still exclaims, "My voice! My voice!" when it changes.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Beetlejuice: When Adam and Barbara first meet the titular bio-exorcist, he says that one of his talents is possession, and demonstrates it on Barbara, who looks surprised when she realizes that Beetlejuice's voice came out of her mouth.
  • Face/Off Inverts the trope with FBI Special Agent Sean Archer, played by John Travolta, who had just managed to put the Big Bad Castor Troy, played by Nicolas Cage, into a coma, but not before learning that Castor had planted a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles. In order to find the bomb, Archer has to undergo surgery that has the two swap faces so that Sean-Archer-posing-as-Castor-Troy can go undercover into prison and get information about the bomb's location from Castor's twin brother Pollux. The physical operation is successful, but when Archer speaks for the first time after waking up he still has Travolta's voice and notes that that would blow his cover — he is given a voice modulator which is tinkered with until it matches Cage's.
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet: Fish!Henry has this reaction when, while being chased by a shark, makes his powerful "thrum" sound for the first time.
  • The Monkey's Uncle: To help the jocks pass English class, Merlin uses a sleep-learning technique where the information they need is played over a phonograph while they sleep. He has his girlfriend Jennifer record the information on the phonograph because he thinks the jocks would prefer her voice. After applying this technique, one of the jocks recites the information needed in Jennifer's voice. He's the only one who doesn't notice.

  • Played with in Bark, George. A puppy named George is learning to bark, but for some reason, he only manages to meow, quack, oink, and moo; however, it's everyone else who acts surprised, not George himself. Of course, he does look surprised when the vet pulls a cat, a duck, a pig, and a cow out of his body.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: In Dragondrums, Piemur, a boy with a beautiful soprano voice, opens his mouth to sing...and his voice breaks due to puberty.
  • Played for horror in Dr. Franklin's Island. When Semi wakes up after being transformed into a manta ray monster she feels good and quite happy at first. Then she sees a monstrous bird with uncannily human aspects and realizes it's Miranda - and Miranda peers at her with wide-set eyes and croaks, and Semi realizes neither of them can speak and is stricken suddenly, trying to scream and being unable. Fortunately, they turn out to have Electronic Telepathy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goodies. In the lighthouse episode, Graeme can't get a foghorn to stop blaring even after he's smashed it to bits, so he swallows the part which is making all the noise. Then he opens his mouth to talk and starts blaring like a foghorn.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Vis à Vis"", a Body Surfing criminal switches bodies with Tom Paris and leaves the latter unconscious on his ship. When Paris wakes up and tries to talk to the ship's computer, he momentarily pauses in surprise at hearing someone else's voice coming out of his mouth.
  • iCarly: in "iHalfoween", Nevel sneaks into the Halfoween party in disguise and offers Carly, Sam, and Freddie "iCarly candies" which turn their voices deeper. It's luckily temporary as their voices soon return to normal while they search for Nevel.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In the episode "The Launch Acceleration", Leonard surprises Penny by bringing her an unnamed gas (likely sulfur hexafluoride), filling up a balloon with it, and asking her to try breathing some of it in. She quickly realizes its effects when she starts speaking:
      Penny: (in a very deep voice) So what is this supposed to — oh my god, that is so freaky!
    • In "The Vengeance Formulation", Kripke pranks Sheldon while the latter is partaking in a radio interview by secretly pumping helium into his room. Sheldon tries to make it through a scientific lecture, only to find his voice pitching up to "cartoon character" territory.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street: In the Season 41 episode "Music Magic,"note  Elmo finds Abby Cadabby's wand and uses it to cast a spell on the citizens that makes them sing instead of talking. When he waves the wand high up, they sing in helium-like voices, and when he waves it down low, they sound very deep. When he does this to Alan and Baby Bear, the two look confused and grab their throats both times their voice changes.

    Web Comic 
  • Misfile: After Ash wakes up as a girl, the first thing he does it mutter to himself and notice his voice seems higher. Then he looks in the mirror.
    Thank god it's Saturday... Christ, have I got laryngitis or something?

    Web Videos 
  • In the "Misfits and Magic" campaign of Dimension 20, Dream is an Emo Teen, so it's quite a shock when a magical reaction suddenly causes her to speak (and sing) in a high-pitched, girlish lilt that would put Snow White to shame. Everyone's reaction, including her own, is essentially, "What the hey?!?!" Especially when birds and mice show up out of 'nowhere to flock around her.
  • A common punishment in GoAnimate videos is by having the troublemaker's voice changed.
    Caillou: Oh no, my voice is now Jennifer. WAAAAAH!

    Western Animation 
  • Duck Amuck: During the Sound Defect spot, Daffy prepares to rant at the offscreen animator, but crows like a rooster instead. Eyes widening with surprise, he clams up. He tries again, only to cackle like a kookaburra. Stopping himself, he briefly opens his beak, producing a kitten mew. He then starts seething with rage, before screaming in Angrish and declaring, "I've never been so humiliated in all my life!"
  • DuckTales (2017): At certain points, Donald Duck's voice changes so that he speaks normally like the other characters (voiced by Don Cheadle), as opposed to his usual unintelligible quacking. The effect is treated as jarring In-Universe, as his whole family will realize that something's off.
    Dewey: Whoa, he sounds so ... normal!
  • In The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch uses his "vacu-sound sweeper" (a device that changes the way things sound) to make the cat moo instead of speaking. He looks shocked when the Grinch makes him moo.
  • Johnny Test: One episode ends with the title character, in the aftermath of the episode hijinks, replying to a question from his parents by saying "Woof, woof" and then covering his mouth in surprise. Cue Dukey talking fluidly.
  • King of the Hill: In the pilot episode, after being investigated by child services, Bobby intentionally misbehaves, feeling like his father Hank doesn't love him. And after opening up to Peggy, she has Hank go tell Bobby he loves his son. Hank beats around the bush nervously trying to express affection for his son, before making a loud, high-pitched yell. Afterward, Hank claims it was a weird sound he never made before.
  • The Simpsons: In a flashback, Homer's voice changes abruptly in the middle of a church choir performance.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "I Was a Teenage Gary", Squidward accidentally injects SpongeBob with small plasma meant for Gary, causing him to exhibit snail-like behavior, including meowing, before transforming into a snail.
      SpongeBob: Sorry, Gary, I couldn't control myself. (belches) MEOW! ...Why'd I just do that? Am I cracking up?
    • In "The Inside Job," Plankton tries to find out the Krabby Patty formula by going inside SpongeBob's body and attaching himself to his heart. Like the aforementioned episode, a transformation is foreshadowed when Plankton's evil laughter morphs into SpongeBob's trademark giggle.
      Plankton: Okay, that was weird. Like I was saying, the Krabby Patty recipe is... the delicious sole property of the Krusty Krab! (covers this mouth) Who said that?!
  • Taz-Mania: One episode has the staff try to make improvements to the show, and one suggestion is to give Taz a normal speaking voice. Taz responds by pointing to himself and saying a coherent "Me?", then immediately covers his mouth in shock. He uses his new eloquence to voice some of his criticisms of the show, prompting the staff to revert his voice back to his usual grunting.
  • Teen Titans: "For Real" had Control Freak fight Más y Menos, who only speak Spanish. They were startled when he used a Spanish language converter on his remote to make them start speaking in English.
    Más: "Nothing happened."
    Menos: "Must be the batteries."
    (realization causes both to scream)
  • "Centaurworld": When Horse first arrives in Centaurworld, one of the first things she notices is the fact she's able to actually verbally speak.


Video Example(s):


Yzma's surprise

Whilst trying to stop Kuzco from drinking the potion that will change him back into a human, Yzma accidentally sits on a different potion and transforms herself. At first she assumes into some sort of powerful beast... turns out she's actually a kitten with a high pitched voice.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / VoiceChangeSurprise

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