Ceiling Banger

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Damn it Lawrence, can't you just pretend like we can't hear each other through the wall?
Peter Gibbons, Office Space

Living in an apartment has a big issue. They aren't soundproof, so noise from one carries to the other. This is true in real life as well as in media.

And in both, a common way to deal with this is to bang on the wall/floor/ceiling, depending on the direction of the noise, in the hopes that this will quiet the offending noise. And in both, this rarely works, and may even encourage the neighbors.

One of the most commonly portrayed versions of this is an old person banging on the ceiling with a broom.

If the setting is a dormitory (again both in fiction and out), expect this to be turned Up to Eleven, since:

  1. young and frequently inebriated college students are hardly known for their ability to remain quiet and
  2. dorms tend to have even thinner walls and even more people in the same amount of space than an apartment building.

Right Through the Wall may induce this due to people being entirely too loud about their... business.

Compare Big "Shut Up!",

Not to be confused with the Darth Wiki page Wall Banger.

Examples of Ceiling Banger include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Inverted in a commercial for something, where a student is studying and can hear Prozzak's 'Omabolasire' coming from upstairs. The student then bangs on the ceiling with a broom and yells "Turn it up! I can't hear the words!"
  • Played with in a French condom commercial, where a woman is inspecting the soundproofing of an apartment she might rent. She begins panting and moaning, getting louder and more dramatic until she hears the angry banging of the neighbors that indicates the place is not for her. here
  • Played with in a commercial for something: First we see the remains of a wild party, including passed-out guests. Then we see the upstairs tenant placing 50-inch speakers face-down on his floor with a sheet of plywood between them. Then he stands on the plywood, wearing cowboy boots with microphones taped to them. Cue an epic stomp-dance routine so loud it makes the downstairs furniture walk around by itself.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • The first few episodes of "Welcome to The NHK" have the main protagonist, Satou, being driven half mad by his next door neighbor (next door but sharing the same wall), who keeps playing the same J-Pop song, nonstop, 24 hours a day. A number of times he angrily kicks the wall and yells for his neighbor to turn the music down.
  • In an episode of Crayon Shin-chan (the Gag Dub), Shin gets into a stomp competition with the landlady on the floor below. At least to him it was a competition. She was just ornery about the stomping.
  • An episode of My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute had Kirino Squeeing about an h-scene in the Eroge she's playing... so her brother had to slam the wall to quiet her down. Kirino is not amused.

Fanfic[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • In the movie Office Space, Peter's neighbor Lawrence is constantly banging on the walls and listening in on his life. He even joins in on a supposedly top-secret conversation from the other side of the wall.

Peter: "Oh, it's okay... Lawrence is cool."

  • In Antonia, a character known only as the Protestant, bangs on the ceiling with a broom whenever the lady above him, Mad Madonna, howls at the moon.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Reminiscent of an Ogden Nash poem which included something like:

We might love the people upstairs wonderous
If, instead of above us, they lived just underus.

  • An old joke / fable type thing: A man was staying in a hotel room and complained to the manager that he was kept awake all night by the guest in the room above him. They visited the room above and found a farmer who had arrived back in the hotel, exhausted, in the middle of the night. The farmer apologised and explained that he just flopped on his bed, and shoved off his boot which landed heavily on the floor. Realising his mistake and the noise, he had taken the other boot off and placed it carefully on the floor. The manager asked the original complainer, "You were kept awake all night from thump?", to which the man replied "I was waiting for the second boot to drop!"
  • Mentioned and averted in Fight Club. The Narrator mentions he lives in a high priced apartment for urban professionals with thick concrete walls and floors:

Narrator: Home was a condo on the fifteenth floor of a filing cabinet for widows and young professionals. The walls were solid concrete. A foot of concrete is important when your next-door neighbor lets their hearing aid go and have to watch game-shows at full volume. Or when a volcanic blast of debris that used to be your furniture and personal effects blows out of your floor-to-ceiling windows and sails flaming into the night. I suppose these things happen.

  • Used as a Meet Cute in PG Wodehouse's short story "The Man Upstairs". She's playing the piano, he knocks on the floor to quiet her down, she goes upstairs to give him a piece of her mind, and a friendship ensues. It later turns out that he moved upstairs in the first place because he wanted a chance to get her attention and did so at the first opportunity. The story ends with a Call Back in which she changes her mind about being angry at him and knocks on the ceiling to summon him downstairs.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Mr. Heckles on Friends. When he passed on, Chandler noticed that the noise from other apartments was actually loud, and did the ceiling banging himself until he realized in horror that he was acting just like Mr. Heckles (this following a number of improbable similarities from Heckles's yearbook).
  • The first-season episode Meadowlands of The Sopranos: Meadow and Hunter are playing music way too loud, prompting longer and louder "HEEEEYYY!"s from Tony, who pounds the wall as he shouts.
  • In Mork and Mindy, this trope is used for a classic gag. Mindy is complaining about a ceiling banger below her apartment and Mork suggests she make the best of it making by making a game of it. When Mindy asks how, Mork stomps on the floor and uses the ceiling banger's subsequent banging to sweep Mindy into a square dance with himself as the caller.
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Sex and Violence" had a brief bit with a man banging on the ceiling with a broom. It was the transition between two sketches, with the family of the working-class playwright being shushed by Michael Palin so he could introduce man with three buttocks. "We've done that!" All right, all right! A man with... nine legs! "He ran away." Oh, bloody hell. Uh... a Scotsman on a horse! {{[[[Stock Footage]] old ladies applaud}}]
  • Happens in a couple of How I Met Your Mother episodes, most notably in the one where Future Ted tells his kids that they were annoyed by the loud bagpiping of the neighbors. Also referenced in another episode where Lilly tells Ted she can hear Robin's orgasms because the walls are thin.
  • Bernard does it in an episode of Black Books, despite the fact the couple making the noise are not actually upstairs, and causes a huge chunk of plaster to fall on a slumbering Fran in the process.
  • An episode of House revolves around this with the cranky neighbor below being a Canadian veteran who lost an arm in Vietnam and suffers from extremely painful phantom limb. It's eventually resolved when House breaks into his apartment, knocks him out, duct tapes him to a chair, and... cures him.
  • A Community episode ends with Annie banging on her floor in a vain attempt to quiet the PA sales announcements at the dildo store underneath her apartment.

Music[edit | hide]

  • "Knock Three Times" is a popular song recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn. In the song, the narrator tells his beautiful downstairs neighbor, whom he's never met, but nonetheless is in love with, that she should knock on the ceiling three times if she wants to meet him, twice on the radiator pipe if she is not interested.
  • Barenaked Ladies' rather nostalgic song, The Old Apartment, has the following line:

How is the neighbor downstairs? How is her temper this year?
I turned up your TV and stomped on the floor just for fun!

  • Inverted in the Girls Aloud song "Sound of the Underground":

Disco dancing with the lights down low
Beats are pumping on the stereo
Neighbour's banging on the bathroom wall
He's sayin' crank the bass, I gotta get some more

  • Voltaire's The Man Upstairs

As far as I can tell, he juggles bowling balls
but he's not good at it.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Used a lot in recent years in For Better or For Worse because of the crabby downstairs neighbours Mike and Deanna have...and Deanna's mom provoking them for being so crabby. Subverted in that the neighbours damage the ceiling while doing this and the landlady had all the proof she needed finding the broken plaster in the trash to hit them with the bill for the repairs.
    • It would probably help, at this point, to point out that said crabby neighbors weren't just intolerant of noise in spite of being well aware that the people upstairs had young children-they were portrayed as horrible human beings without anything resembling a redeeming feature, so the landlady wasn't just being stingy when she slapped them with the bill, she was eagerly searching for grounds to evict them.
    • They also Violated the building's "No Smoking" rules. eventually, the building burns down, thanks to those awful neighbors smoking in bed
      • Bear in mind that in spite of all the myriad and sundry lease violations they committed before damaging the ceiling, the landlady couldn't evict them because she wasn't willing to put in the effort to document said violations so that she would have proof in case they tried to contest the eviction.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • The Goon Show: In "The International Christmas Pudding", Minnie and Henry are trying to sleep in a tent when they are disturbed by banging from the tent upstairs.
  • The thin bedroom walls (and the requisite banging) were one of the reasons Commander Murray was so keen to move out of his parents-in-law house in The Navy Lark.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Prisoner of Second Avenue features a fight between the Edisons and their unseen Scandinavian stewardess neighbors.
  • Musa's upstairs neighbors in Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World do this a few times.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In the DS game Touch Detective, your first case has you visiting the main character's extremely ditzy friend in her apartment. While you're talking, she hears her upstairs neighbor comes in, excuses herself for a moment, then starts banging on the ceiling with a stick of some sort, receiving some stomps in reply. When your shocked main character asks what she's doing, she explains that she's just greeting her neighbor in morse code. The problem? As you find out when you visit the neighbor, your friend never explained this system at all, and the neighbor is just trying to get her to shut up with their "replies". You, of course, explain the mistake. It's implied that the neighbor goes along with it from then on, but it's not really brought up again, so who knows?
  • In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, there are two brothers in a house on the first island. The strong brother on the ground floor sometimes knocks things over by ramming into the wall, the smart brother on the top floor responds by banging loudly on the floor/ceiling while yelling for him to stop that.
  • The Sims 2 Apartment Life lets you be on either side of the equation: Your sim may have a noisy neighbor, and decide to bang on the wall, or your sim may be a noisy neighbor, and have his/her wall banged upon.
    • However, dorm walls in The Sims 2 University never have the same problem; a Sim can sleep in his/her dorm room even if a wild party is going on in common space.
  • This is the Land Of the Livid Dead's first reaction to Rayman and company's noisy dozing in Rayman Origins, causing the tree Rayman's crew is in to shake. Not only do they fail to get the message, but the shaking causes they're snoring to increase tempo.
  • In Super Mario RPG, one citizen of Monstro Town complains that he keeps hearing strange noises and incoherent muttering next door. Mario tries to investigate, but the door is always locked. Later in the game, Mario can open the door, and it turns out his neighbor is Culex, a powerful sorceror drawn in the normal Final Fantasy art style, and the house is actually a portal to his personal dimension, an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. Culex was about to invade Mario's dimension when Mario arrived.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Eulice does this in one of the early strips of Ménage à 3 - with a twist: she does indeed interrupt a conversation, but not due to being bothered by the noise. Rather, it is solely to reaffirm a statement in the conversation that she will have Gary's hide in the event the rent is not paid promptly.
  • This Subnormality comic

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in a cutaway gag on Family Guy. A guy sneezed, and that set off the woman in the apartment below. The guy sighed at this overreaction, and she threatened to call the police.
  • In a Cold Opening for Futurama, there are spring sounds that make it seem like the couple next door are having sex (Fry even complains that "they've been at it for hours!"). Fry bangs on the wall to tell them to shut up. Pan to the next room... where robots with springs for torsos are bouncing up and down, playing cards. One applies some oil to his springs and yells an apology. It's a robot apartment building, after all.
  • An animated insert on Sesame Street has an insomniac living on the second floor of a three-story apartment building. His upstairs neighbor snores and his downstairs neighbor sneezes. (Watch it here.)
  • In the "Dial M For Monkey" segment of Dexter's Laboratory, Magmanamus, a giant magma monster that lives in the center of earth, pounds ceiling of its room with a broom to shout the noise of the city that woke him up. When it doesn't work he gets outside.
  • In 101 Dalmatians, this is Nanny's standard method of gaining her employer's attention when he's working on his music in his attic workshop. Thus, it is a welcome signal to take a break instead of being one of irritation.
  • Done in the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "A Glass Of Warm Ed", with Sarah banging a lawnmower-toy thing on the floor.