Audible Sharpness

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Claws make no noise as they slide out, but they ought to. They ought to make a noise like "tzing".

When weapons with sharp and cutting edges are brandished, a vaguely metallic sound effect will be inserted (along with a bit of Lens Flare) to signify just how lethally sharp the weapon is.

The tone of the sharpness, as with musical instruments, is dependent on size.

A samurai sword makes a tiny, high-pitched sound; the stabbing metal arms of a Humongous Mecha are much deeper, but fundamentally the same sound. The sound can either be a strike-like ping or a longer vibration sound, usually depending on how the light strikes.

Common in animated works, sometimes as a trope, and sometimes as a humorous subversion. Sometimes even non-metal objects make a metallic scraping sound, like a predator's row upon row of pointed teeth.

Keep in mind, the creators know that sharp things don't make noise. They do it because 1. It sounds cool and 2. The audience expects it. This is also partially because in old timey radio shows, they would use this noise to demonstrate that someone was drawing a knife because of Rule of Perception, so it's sometimes justified.

Used by the same kind of series that would use Sword Sparks, a subset of The Coconut Effect. For objects that aren't sharp but still cast an ambient hum along with their glow, see Audible Gleam. See also this trope's Gun Counterpart, Noisy Guns.

A good example of Editorial Synaesthesia. Compare Sinister Scraping Sound.

Examples of Audible Sharpness include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A Zoosk dating site advert in the UK had audible sharpness with a loaf of french bread. Yes, it was as stupid as it sounds.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • In Pokémon, this effect is used when Meowth unsheathes his claws. Also, him unsheathing his claws often means that Team Rocket are within three minutes of blasting off...painfully.
  • Whenever Kunai or Shuriken are pulled out of arsenal or clash together in Naruto, they seem to make a "vsst!" or a "Shink!" sound.
    • As seen in Shippuden episode 202, Juugo actually has an audibly sharp arm. Yes, it's his real arm; no, it's not metal. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In Keroro Gunsou, Momoka's Fawcett curls actually do this when she slips into full psycho mode.
  • Triangle Heart 3 ~sweet songs forever~ (better known as "the one Nanoha spun off from") used this with Kyouya's and Miyuki's swords.
  • Kyuzo's first appearance in Samurai 7 fills this trope perfectly.
  • This happens a lot in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. A lot. And not just with swords. It can happen with guns, mecha, sunglasses, even eyeballs.
  • While it's true that drawing a katana from a sheath does make a noise, in Rurouni Kenshin the mere act of notching the sword (pushing the hilt forward slightly to loosen it in its scabbard) makes an audible click. Similarly Saito's sword makes a loud click whenever he turns it for his trademark stance.
  • When Van draws his sword off of his waist in Gun X Sword, it makes a whip-snap noise and then the "Ting!" sound. This sound effect also occurs at the very start of the opening theme.
    • this could be explained bu the sword going from its flexible 'belt' mode to its rigid sword mode.
  • In the Hellsing OVAs, Alexander Anderson's blessed bayonets do this, particularly during his first fight with Alucard. Of course, OVAs being OVAs, a lot of stylistic effects were added just for Rule of Cool.
  • The swords in Slayers tend to be audible too, particularly the ones belonging to main character Gourry and secondary-character-but-ace-swordsman Zangalus.
  • Shiki's knives in Kara no Kyoukai have a tendency to clack when moved, despite the fact that they don't seem to have any moving parts (they're knives, after all).
  • When One Piece's Sogeking is forced to stand in for Zoro's sword despite his reluctance he seems to take his role at least seriously enough to provide appropriate sound effects.
  • Saya's sword in Blood Plus becomes audible when she loads it with her blood
  • Whenever Inuyasha draws the Tetsusaiga it makes a scraping, crashing sound ending in a loud TSCHING! Then again, it does control wind, so maybe it provides the sound effects itself…?


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • X-Men character Wolverine's claws make a "SNIKT" sound when extended that has become almost iconic at this point.
    • And in the movie Van Helsing, with the titular character played by Hugh Jackman who of course also played Wolverine in the recent movies, after Van Helsing is transformed into a werewolf, he extends his claws with exactly the same sound.
    • And, in the comics, when Wolverine has the adamantium removed from his body, the claws make a distinctively different "SHLIKT" sound.
    • This is possibly justified in the movies by the fact that Wolverine's skeleton is encased in metal, and thus his blades' going "SNIKT" when extended could be explained as the blades scraping on his skeleton.
  • In the comic book Fables, when Boy Blue gets the Vorpal Sword (as a reference to Alice in Wonderland , whenever he swings it the drawn in sound effect for it is "Snicker-Snack"


Film - Live Action[edit | hide]

  • In Spider-Man 2, the sound effect can be heard when Harry Osborn picks a dagger up from off a stand on a desk. It is not sheathed; just lifted from balancing on a stand on a desk.
  • Gladiator
  • Troy. When Achilles challenges Hector, we hear a 'Shing' noise as the camera moves past a stationary sword.
    • Menelaus' sword also whistles as he...moves it slowly and deliberately through the air.
  • V for Vendetta's movie incarnation applies this trope regularly to V's knives, as well as providing visible sharpness in one late action scene: V's blades end up creating their own contrails.
    • In the same scene, the blades make an extended and loud metallic noise as he draws them from his sheath...and the noise then continues as he throws the blades through the air. What are they scraping on? Oxygen?
  • Kill Bill, with its absolute worship of the samurai sword, is a heavy user of this. The blades of the swords, especially the protagonist's extra-special sword, seem to practically sing whenever they so much as appear in frame.
  • Any time a sword is pulled out of a leather scabbard in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies, with a metal-on-metal sound effect. Lampshaded in the DVD audio commentaries: they originally wanted to do it realistically, but test audiences reacted badly.
  • The killer manages to do this with a hook in the second I Know What You Did Last Summer film. Made somewhat worse by the fact that said hook is of such a shape that it probably wouldn't fit in a scabbard, and at one point the SHING seems to happen just because he takes it out from under his coat.
  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. The Big Bad's sword does this all the time. Of course, it is very explicit that the sword is deeply magical, which only raises the question of why he spent mojo to make it audibly sharp. I guess the Rule of Cool trumps the need for surprise.
  • Done to excess in the animated film adaptation of Kara no Kyoukai: in the first movie, the protagonist slowly and dramatically drawing her knife sounds more like an iron bar sliding out of a metal case (ie. a sound effect generally reserved for broadswords). Just the mere act of sunlight reflecting off its tip seems to cause a loud "ting!". It's just that sharp.
  • Every single one of the Joker's knives in The Dark Knight making a shikt sound whenever one was drawn. One even made the sound when the Joker tossed it from one hand to the other.
  • In the Clive Barker film Nightbreed, the psychotic Doctor Decker's blade makes a particularly cool and sinister scrape as he draws it on one unsuspecting victim, and the blade gets a close-up as it does so.
  • The swords used in Underworld Awakening are like this.
  • The big ol' knife in Misery is audibly sharp. Okay—but it's being drawn from a cloth sling.
  • In the movie version of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, Ford's towel produces this when pulled out in the scene where they meet Marvin for the first time.
  • The first victim in Cube stops dead on hearing a "tzing" sound. No, literally dead. Literally cubed, as well...
  • The old Chinese movie Seven Swords has swords that ring all the time, apparently to prove they're good.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in the fight scene in the Merovingian's chateau in the second Matrix movie. Any time one of them so much as nudged a bladed weapon, you could hear it.
  • In Sin City, when Marv's checking his list of tools, every object he lists makes a sound. His hatchet is accompanied the typical metal-on-metal sound.
  • In Star Trek, there's not one, but three "shing"s when Sulu unsheathes his collapsible katana.
  • An attacker's knife makes a few inexplicable "tzink" noises as his swipes miss or are blocked (without the blade apparently hitting anything) in The Bourne Identity.
  • In the 2010 film Legion, when Michael produces a needle to perform stitches on himself, and the camera lingers on it, it practically sings.
  • The French horror movie High Tension features a knife that happily tzinks without any corresponding action to which the sound can be attributed - it's sharp, so it makes a noise.
  • Every time Michael Myer's knife appears onscreen in Halloween: Resurrection it is accompanied by a sching sound effect, no matter how little he is actually doing with it.
  • The discs in Tron: Legacy might be an example of this trope as they make a distinctive buzzing sound whenever they're shown up close.
  • In Silent Hill when Rose and Cybill are trapped in a small confined room, Pyramid Head lunges his massive sword into the room with one thrust, slicing the metal door like tin foil. The sword makes a nerve-wrecking metallic hum as he swings blindly at the two women. Skip to 2:22
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, when Neville looks into the Sorting Hat, we hear a distinct "tzing". It's a sound cue to tell the audience what Neville has seen in the hat.
  • The 2003 version of Peter Pan has the "shing" sound even though the weapons are just being picked up from where they're hanging on the wall.
  • In the 1984 Icelandic movie When The Raven Flies, the protagonist kills a whole lot of people using his extremely audibly sharp throwing knives. They are in fact so sharp that they even produce the distinctive "sssschhiiing" when being pulled from the flesh of a dead body!


Film - Animated[edit | hide]

  • Occurs in Mulan during the "Mulan's Decision" sequence just after she cuts her hair and suits-up in her father's war armor.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, the Sword of Heroes, so sharp that you can cut yourself by looking at it, did it when Po looked at it and papercut his finger.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels reference this a few times, featuring a joke that if light could make a noise, it would go "ting" when reflected off the blade of a sword flourished at dramatically appropriate times. In the first Discworld Adventure Game, one quest that must be performed is getting a sword "tuned" to do this effect (a sword that goes "ting"). Death's supernaturally sharp scythe is sometimes described as making a noise like "ripping velvet", and in one scene in Reaper Man can be used to cut soundwaves. The scythe also has visible sharpness; the edge glows a faint blue, sometimes said to be from atoms splitting against it.
    • The Scythe actually goes so far as to cu/t u/p wo/rd/s in the text while it's being used.
    • The joke is further expanded to include sparkling smiles. Vimes thinks balefully about heroes: "And then they smile, and the light catches their teeth, Ting! Bastards." This was probably inspired by toothpaste commercials.
  • Lewis Carroll's famous Jabberwock story mentions the protagonist's vorpal blade going "snicker-snack".
  • The titular Sword of Truth is described as making a very distinctive, unique noise like this when drawn. Of course, it is a magic sword.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Music[edit | hide]

  • Used prominently in the "Attack Music" video by These New Puritans.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney likes to do this metaphorically from time to time, especially before cross-examinations, with the two lawyers' eyes lowered at one another, Speed Stripes in the background, as Audible Sharpness indicates the "battle of wits".
    • Played straight in Apollo Justice, when Wocky Kitaki's Mother pulls a sword out of her broom.
  • Actually a plot point in the LucasArts game Loom. Your character is a magician who uses musical spells; one of the ones you have to learn is the sound of sharpness, made by a huge, sharp blade, which you later play backwards to blunt a sword (granted, lots of other objects play such tunes when you observe them).
  • Most, if not all sword-carrying units in Civilization IV do an Audible Sharpness sound when ordered to fortify. Particularly odd as the weapons are always out in the open.
  • Auron's introductory FMV in Final Fantasy X featured one of these, though rather subdued amidst the music, snarling monsters, and screaming innocent bystanders in the distance. What made this especially odd is that he wasn't doing anything with his sword at the time...and in fact, it's resting on his shoulder through the entire scene, as he faces a fiend, unlimbers his Arm of Death, and assumes a fighting stance.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl (and probably the others) a few characters have their swords shine. The example below justifies it for Link at least.
  • When Link charges a Jump Strike or Great Spin attack in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, a glint of specular reflection gleams up the length of his sword with an audible * Shhhwing!* .
  • The various weapon powersets in City of Heroes almost always make a sound when drawn (from nowhere). With the weapon customization system implemented, audible sharpness even applies to femurs and baseball bats, if you want it to.
  • Any bladed weapon in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind does this.
    • Any blunt weapon in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will result in Audible Bluntness; the huge hammers making a low, slow and heavy tone, rather than the sharp sheer tone of blades. Bows make the best noise, of knocking an arrow into place.
    • Also in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; however this inadvertently creates a mind-screw moment when sneaking. Despite the AI being intelligent enough to detect the PC colliding with objects (some "traps" actually rely on this), the AI does not "hear" the PC unsheathing a weapon while sneaking; only the player does.
  • Devil May Cry: Dante and Vergil are particularly fond of this trope, the slightest movements of Rebellion and Yamato before the twins fight producing this high-pitched sound for dramatic effect. Hell, Rebellion doesn't even have a sheath.
  • In Advent Children Complete, Sephiroth's sword practically sings. It's just there, not doing anything, he's not even swinging it and you can still hear how sharp it is.
  • Knives and swords in Lugaru make a specific sound when being equipped and un-equipped even though Turner just wears them on his belt without a real sheath. (The sound could be the blade against whatever holds them onto his belt.)
  • Funnily enough, bladed weapons in Midatake High don't make any noise at all when being picked up or equipped. The only noise any weapon makes is when it hits something, and the sound for a bladed weapon sounds distinctively fleshy, since the only time you swing your blade is when you're stabbing someone—not a metallic sound.
  • Several add-ons for Counter-Strike: Source give different effects to the standard melee Knife weapon. One add-on replaces the knife with a eastern katana, complete with a "Stereotypically Eastern" fanfare when drawn.
    • Default Counter-Strike has a knife in all iterations of the game. It's drawn rather unrealistically every time, unsheathing it with the blade facing the player, before spinning it around in one hand to brandish it in a defensive stance. Every time the knife is drawn, the SHING sound is made. Every time the knife strikes on a wall, floor, or hard object, it makes a very loud scraping sound that can be heard from halfway across a mid-sized map.
  • Strider Hiryu's weapon has a noticeable and distinctive ringing sound when swung. This effect has persisted in every game he has been featured in.
  • Done fairly loudly to emphasize the Darker and Edgier-ness of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within—but there's that one level where he's wielding a stick...that's gotta be one sharp stick.
  • The hidden blade in Assassin's Creed I makes a loud noise when it's drawn, and a SHING! sound effect when you stab someone with it. All the other weapons also make a sound when drawn.
    • The former sound is justified, since the blade is attached on a rather complex mechanical device that springs it out; it's remarkable that it doesn't make more sound, actually.
    • Though it's most likely a developer oversight, equipping a blunt weapon, such as a metal hammer, will still make the same SHING noise that a swords makes when being unsheathed.
  • Used to great effect in the Clock Tower series. The scissorman carries a huge pair of scissors and opens and closes them with every step, producing a sharp sound of the metal rubbing together. (This is possible in real life if the blades are screwed together tightly.) The result greatly heightens the tension as the sound draws closer and closer to you.
  • Mr. Grimm in Twisted Metal Black also does this when you select his special.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, the Vorpal Blade is less "Snicker-Snack" and more like *SHWING!*
  • Baldur's Gate: Sarevok is so Badass he gets this for his finger. Well, it is kind of sharp...
  • As in the books, the first Discworld game has you seeking a sword that goes "TING" in order to be a Hero. You first find a sword that goes "Plonk", and need to get it retuned.
  • In the intro to Warcraft II: the Tides of Darkness, the human soldiers are seen picking up spears and swords hanging on the wall. All of them are loudly audibly sharp.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Obvious example in the 1990's X-Men, where Wolverine's claws have a very distinctive sound...not so much a "snikt" as it is a "PSHHTT".
  • In The Movie of Kim Possible a group of Ninja have flaming swords which make noise when used.
  • Waterbenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender can use water like blades if they swing it fast enough, and the water then makes noises like this. Other sharp weapons in the show also do this.
    • Especially Space Sword.
  • Occurs in the second episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, with Rarity brandishing a dragon scale that makes a 'ting' to show that it is sharp enough to cut off her tail.
    • Also occurs in "A Bird In The Hoof", with Celestia's guards' wings.
    • An interesting example happens in "Return of the Elements of Harmony part 2," Discord drinks the glass of chocolate milk. Not the milk, he drank the GLASS. The sound of it going down his throat sounded very glassy... Of course Discord threw the milk away, which then exploded, so most of what he does intentionally doesn't make sense.
  • In the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode I Am Curious Ed, Edd is dressed as a giant bee, stinger and all. The stinger makes a "ting* noise right before he decides to stab Eddy in the butt with it.
  • Ed's teeth do this in a Laughing Hyenas short when he grins. Granted, Ed makes a lot of strange noises....
  • In Thundercats 2011, the Sword of Omens has a very particular noise, as does the Sword of Hattanzo, (based on a zil-bel) as detailed here.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Inverted in Bad Machinery, where Claire's knife makes a Blunt noise when she brandishes it.
  • An unusual variant in Gunnerkrigg Court, where the edge of the Coyote Tooth laughs.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Possibly Truth in Television due to the fact that certain types of swords will make a resounding ringing noise when pulled from the sheath that lasts for a few seconds afterward. Mostly shorter, heavier slashing blades.
    • Among true sword enthusiasts, having a sword do this when it's drawn from its scabbard is a bad thing—the ringing noise is the sound of the blade's edge grinding against a metal scabbard collar that has not been built correctly, and it has the effect of dulling the blade, often after only a few times of doing this.
  • Some knife blocks have metal in the slots to sharpen the blade or magnetically lock it. As such, they will produce this effect.
  • For purposes of showiness, some stage scabbards have a ring of metal near the top to make this noise.
  • You can simulate this trope by attaching a small piece of metal on the mouth of your scabbard. As mentioned above, don't try this with a real sword unless you want to dull the blade.
  • Hollow-ground straight-razors will produce this sound (faintly) if lifted off the strop just right.
    • They will also produce a satisfying "ting" noise during the Hanging Hair Test if properly sharpened.
  • You will inevitably hear this sound if you're figure skating. The time that the sound is best heard is when your skates are newly sharpened and you're doing either a scratch spin or a back scratch spin. It's sort of a pleasant Audible Sharpness, actually.
  • If the blade has a profound fuller, it will make a humming sound when swung. This is used in iaido to recognize if a blow was technically good.