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Wacky Sound Effect

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A "wrong" sound effect that doesn't fit the action portrayed is played for comedic effect. This is for the audience's ears only, the characters never notice in-universe (that would be Sound Defect).

On some shows, this is done routinely and serves to enhance the overall wackiness, on others it is used sparingly and to make a specific auditive point or gag, for example when the impact of a huge object fails to produce the ear-shattering KABOOM sound the audience expects. Typically, 'big' things get a 'small' or silly sound, but the trope works the other way around as well. Stock Sound Effects and inherently funny sounds (associated with circuses and clowns) are especially popular. In a common variation, this trope is Exaggerated by the use of a different Wacky Sound Effect every time an action is repeated, for example when a character is repeatedly hit on the head with the same object.

Sometimes, a sound is played where there shouldn't be anything to hear, for example Squeaky Eyes (a subtrope). Contrast with Audible Sharpness and Audible Gleam which aren't considered wacky but rather cross over to Coconut Effect territory. Contrast also with Space Is Noisy, where 1) the space noise is also more or less expected by the viewer and 2) the sound effects are pseudorealistic rather than wacky. See also Editorial Synaesthesia.

Another extreme version of this is when something or someone gets a sound effect for just being there or coming into view.

Wacky sound effects are a staple of animation, but also sometimes used in older live-action works where it is likely, however, to be deemed by a present-day audience to feel inappropriate and tantamount to Special Effects Failure. Then, there's the connection to Slapstick and, by association, to funny home videos. Compare Unsound Effect, which involves similarly odd sound effects, but the oddness is centered around non-sound effects being rendered as being such anyway.


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    Fan Works 
  • After Ultra Fast Pony's first two episodes conspicuously lack any sound effects, the third episode, titled "Now With A Sound Effect", has the characters admiring the use of an overly loud apple-biting sound. The rest of the show follows the precedent, using loud and unfitting sound effects whenever possible.
    • An especially notable instance is in "The Longest Wedding", where no less than fourteen different sounds are used as the changelings ram the Orb repeatedly. This is lampshaded in the Director's Commentary.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, when Iago hits Jafar in the head it makes a sound that no man's head being hit by a parrot's wing should make. It sounds a little bit like hitting a washing machine.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Airplane!, this was coupled with Just Plane Wrong as in-flight shots outside the airliner were accompanied by the sound effect of prop aircraft. Not to mention the sound of a steam locomotive as it pulled away from the airport terminal.
  • In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (A'yoy), Johann's duster sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Other characters tell him to stop dusting while they're trying to have a conversation.
  • The Swedish cult slapstick comedy Drömkåken (The Dream House) has a few, including a fuse box that makes a cuckoo sound after it short circuits, and a washing machine that, spazzing out due to said fuse box breaking, breaks down with a burp (followed by the laundry falling out as if vomited).
    "I put you on delicate cycle you spastic, German piece of shit!"
  • A (probably) unintentional example. In Frankenstein 1970, the disposal unit Victor uses to get rid of body parts makes the sound of a flushing toilet. Originally, it made a grinding noise but the studio decided it was too gruesome and changed it. They probably went too far the other way, as the new effect caused audiences to laugh.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun features a visually impressive Ramp Jump car stunt which is accompanied by a silly cartoony slide-whistle sound. Many fans were very upset that one of the most spectacular car stunts in film history was essentially ruined this way, effectively sabotaging the entire chase scene of which the stunt was part. The scene is thus often considered to symbolize everything that many considered wrong about the 1970's Bond films.
  • In Mom and Dad Save the World, two guards, on orders from Spengo, shoot themselves in the head for their stupidity (they gave him a opinion on facial hair that he did not like). When the do this with their quirky ray guns, one can hear what sounds like a rubber duck being squeezed.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian had a spaceship (yes, a spaceship) that made gearshift noises while in space.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, during the song "Thankless Job", several wacky sound effects can be heard.
  • One gag in Robin Hood: Men in Tights has the (12th century) messenger fox scurry off into the woods to the sound of a ricocheting bullet and... a dolphin cry?
  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the sabotaged U.S.S. Excelsior's engines fail with a sound effect that resembles a stalling car.
  • The Three Stooges punctuated their slapping and hitting with overdubbed sound effects that often did not actually reflect what the real sound would be, such as the sound of a bass drum when someone (usually Curly) is hit in the stomach.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gullah Gullah Island did this in Season 1, when Binyah Binyah hopped, there was a boinging sound. It ended up being abandoned by Season 2.
  • Studio C's Radio Mystery Hour starts out fine until the Special Effects gal topples the table with all the special effects things so she has to improvise.

     Music Videos 
  • Cat Hairballs has several cartoon sound effects throughout the video. Among them are:
    • A whirling sound when Stimpy spins Ren around.
    • A rubbery spring noise when they spring off of a chair.
    • Coughing after the line "or a fine cigar".
    • A sucking sound as Ren gets sucked into Stimpy's nose.
    • Countless splat sounds when one of Stimpy's hwarfs hits the conveyor belt.
    • And of course the painful hluarf sound when Stimpy passes out on the conveyor belt and gets branded on the ass cheeks.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 2 has the "Earwax" game, which is about picking two sounds from a library of Stock Sound Effects that best fit a certain prompt.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, searching a pile of rocks, or other such rubble, would occasionally be accompanied by a slamming door sound.
  • Whenever Glukkons walk in Oddworld games, it is accompanied by a xylophone sound effect. This is notably absent in Soulstorm's ending to emphasize the game's darker tone.
  • In The Ring: Terror's Realm, there's a wacky "SppplllAAAAT" sound effect used throughout the game (it's even used on the menu screens).
    Spoony: That was the best sound effect they could come up with, the sound of someone stepping on a mustard bottle.
  • Sim Farm gives us some truly bizarre sound effects. Watch this guy's reactions to them (starting at 1:43).
  • Soul Series: Joke weapons in Soulcalibur II produce Wacky Sound Effects every time they connect: Astaroth's Rock trumpets like an elephant, Yoshimitsu's Shepherd's Crook bleats like a sheep, Necrid's Ethereal Edge makes a "boi-oi-oing" noise, Nightmare's Galley Oar makes a sound like breaking waves, and so on.
  • The weapons in Worms games, which include everything from bazookas to sheep and exploding bananas, are as wacky as they sound.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Drawn Together has lots of these, with Wooldoor Sockbat as the epicenter. His masturbation technique involves a long string of Wacky Sound Effects.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy absolutely reveled in using deliberately inappropriate sound effects, such as microphone feedback for when Eddy's hand gets a cactus stuck on it, or a truck backing up when Double D awkwardly motions himself away from Ed. It even delighted in using some seen (almost) nowhere else, such as the iconic "SUBALUWA!"
  • Freakazoid! features one in Toby Danger: when something collapses, explodes, or otherwise goes horribly awry, the sound effect used is that of a flushing toilet. Lampshaded for laughs near the end of the short when water comes cascading down. Potentially toilet humor.
  • All spaceships in Futurama seem to be fitted with horns.
    • Done in-universe in "The Birdbot of Ice-Catrez", the newscast of the dark matter spill on Pluto's penguin preserve has footage accompanied by comical sound-effects of the penguins slipping on the dark matter. a helpful caption, "Sound Effects Added To Lessen Tragedy" is displayed on-screen.
  • Invader Zim had this in spades. The sound of air slowly being let out of a balloon was often used for when stupid people were straining their brains.
  • Done regularly in Looney Tunes cartoons - a gunshot sound for a slamming door, for instance.
    • Bugs gives Daffy some weird sounds in Duck Amuck during one segment.
    • The cartoons from the Warner Bros.- Seven Arts era near the end of The '60s sometimes uninteltionally have this, due to the Limited Sound Effects library the studio had at the time...
      • The second "Bunny and Claude" short, The Great Carrot Train Robbery, has Claude quickly hammer a barrel shut with a sped-up version of the Hanna-Barbera "temple block riot" sound effect, which is generally used for characters preparing to run off and sounds nothing like hammering.
      • The short released after that, ''Fistic Mystic" with Merlin the Magic Mouse, has Merlin conjure up a pair of magic boxing gloves that rapidly punch with the same "temple block riot" sound effect.
      • Injun Trouble (1969) has one of the Indians try painting a ring around his teepee, and his paintbrush makes a "Poof!" sound effect (like when a puff of dust arises or a magic trick is performed) when it initially touches the teepee.
      • During this era, it was not uncommon for anything that was breaking or crashing to make the exact same Hanna-Barbera "smash against wall" sound effect (sounding like china being broken), and half the time it wouldn't fit well with what was being smashed (such as Daffy Duck crashing through a wooden floor in Rodent to Stardom, a race car crashing in Hippydrome Tiger, Nero's throne and violin being smashed in See Ya Later Gladiator, the sheriff falling into a trash can in Bunny and Claude, or the Big Ben Clock Tower being destroyed in Shamrock and Roll).
  • Interestingly enough, Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tends to have a subtle version of this played it for drama. In his initial appearance, his every footstep was accompanied by a random noise, and in the season four finale there was the occasional out of place squeaking as his magic was drained from him. Then again, he is a spirit of chaos, so it makes some sort of sense...
    • The "squeaky dog toy" sound effect that accompanies a forced smile.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show was a major Trope Codifier for this in animation. For example, Ren slapping Stimpy will be accompanied with sound effects like glass shattering or bowling pins being knocked down.
  • At the end of most of Hanna-Barbera's Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long Coyote cartoons, Ricochet zips off into the sunset, ricocheting off boulders, plants and things with the sound of "pings", "zings" and gunshots. When his deputy, Droopalong Coyote, tries it, he gets sound effects of clanks, thuds and crashes.
  • Rocko's Modern Life also loved this trope, often having such sound effects be randomly heard or used for inappropriate situations (very much like the above-mentioned Ed, Edd n' Eddy.) This became especially prevalent in the third and fourth seasons, when Jeff Hutchins was the sound effects editor.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has lots of illustrative sound effects to enhance the physicality of the characters: SpongeBob has both 'woody' (when his arms break off) and 'spongy' (when he walks) sound effects. Also, his facial expressions are quite noisy.
  • Xiaolin Showdown does this most often with random, small fart noises during a dumb or stupid scene. When Dojo drinks several bottles of hot sauce in one episode, he belches out a huge column of soot, and a split-second fart sound is played.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Whacky Sound Effect


Running Polar Bear

Looks like someone's forgot to read the Minecraft Wiki. That's what the Gingerbread Man is having when trying to run away from a polar bear.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / BearsAreBadNews

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