Unsound Effect

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    The plot thickens - or strikes - in Erfworld.

    *:Actually, the sound of a wombat being stabbed is a scratchy noise of bristles scraping on steel followed by a rather unpleasant "squlorp!" noise, followed by a damp smack of hilt. But "scratch-squlorp-squithud!" lacks a certain pithiness.


    The Written Sound Effect is a basic technique for illustrating non-dialog sounds in visual media. The text is a transliteration of the sounds, usually written as onomatopoeia. But then some authors will start writing as sound effects words which only sound like onomatopoeia. "Bash!" and "Kick!" for instance, just happen to sound a bit like the impacts they're describing.

    And then, some authors will take it too far, with words that aren't the least bit like sound effects, and are actually just the words for that action in loud capital letters. "Glare!" "Leap!" "Flourish!" and even "Idea!"

    This is the Unsound Effect. It's a humorous technique, although it is also seen in fight scenes ("Block!" "Slash!").

    This is usually attributed to Richie Rich in the original Harvey Comics versions, which lasted from the 1950s to the 1980s. They included such effects as "BOUNCE!" for large rubber balls impacting a hard surface, and went on to "EXPAND!" when Richie utilized one of Prof. Keenbean's Applied Phlebotinum devices meant to go from pocket-size miniature tool/vehicle/etc. to full-size.

    It's worth noting that Manga has different but similar conventions regarding onomatopoeia. Manga has much more than can be done with an Unsound Effect. Japanese writers will use sound effects to denote sounds, like heartbeats or door slams, but also to represent more abstract events like "smiling" ("niko niko"), "sudden realization" ("ha"), "the sound of silence" ("shiiiiiiin") or even "the sound of blushing" ("kaaaaa"). These are known as phenomimes when they describe external phenomena and psychomimes when they describe psychological states. Some Anime, generally the more surreal sort, turn these into actual sound effects.

    And sometimes, the sound effect isn't even written. A Super-Deformed version of the character in the margin, a mascot, an animal, or other living thing in the background will say or represent the character's feelings.

    Related to Editorial Synaesthesia. See also Visible Silence, the Unsound Effect for no sound; and Sound Defect for real sounds that go wrong. When this occurs in-universe it's Saying Sound Effects Out Loud.



    • It is common practice for closed captioning to caption sound effects as well. There is a Windex ad in which the mother cleans a window with Windex to let the sun shine in and wake up her kids. The kids rush out while the mother smirks—because it's Saturday. Her smirk is captioned as "(mother smirks)."

    Anime and Manga

    • In One Piece Chimney did her own sound effect for staring (jiiiiiii).[1]
      • In this page during the Alabasta arc, the camel in the last panel gets, appropriately, CAMEL!!
      • When Zoro battles with Kaku in Enies Lobby, he is so underwhelmed and shocked by the lameness of Kaku's semi-human form he says "You look like sh*t!" To which Kaku says "GABEEN!!"[2]
    • The "Kaa" onomatopoeia is seldom used for a blinding sunlight in manga. The same sound effect is also used for Luminescent Blushes.
    • The Mahou Sensei Negima manga does this a lot. Of course, this is probably due to the translators being very faithful to the original; during a silent scene you'll see the giant "shiiiin" kana with tiny English "the sound of silence" written underneath.
    • The anime versions of Pani Poni Dash!, Lucky Star, Hayate the Combat Butler, and Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei have all used "staring" ("jiiiiiiiiii") as a vocalised sound effect, in SZS's case as a Running Gag.
      • Russia does this too in one episode of the anime of Axis Powers Hetalia - as in, he actually says "jiiiiiii..." while staring at someone. A second later, he does it again, only louder. The other character looks severely uncomfortable by this point.
      • Also in SZS, when The Voiceless Meru types abusive messages with her cell phone, we hear the sound "Meru Meru".
      • The later seasons of SZS have all of the sound effects written on screen and read out loud with a humorously monotone, bored-sounding voice.
      • Lucky Star also has "ira-ira" appear as Kagami gets progressively more irritated with Tsukasa's attempts at texting.
      • Tsukasa goes into lala-land about something, and she actually makes the sound "kira-kira" while her eyes twinkle. (This might even have been preserved in the English dub, with "twinkle-twinkle".)
    • Manga publisher Tokyopop used to do this, with some such sounds including "Stand", "Glare" and "Turn".
    • The manga MPD Psycho employs this trope in both humorous and straight forms, for instance, when Amamiya's glasses gleam with light, the other characters swear they can hear the "shing" noise that results. An example of the serious form of the trope in action is the "dokun" or "kadoom" noise that indicates Amamiya's personality changing.
    • A burn victim in Detective Conan had a speech balloon reading "mouthing words" or something to that effect, having been too injured to say anything discernible.
    • From Hayate the Combat Butler, we also have the inestimable: COINCIDENCE!
    • Ouran High School Host Club, with "POINT".
    • One translation of the Hentai doujin Blue Eyes featured such sound effects as "ORGASM!", "CLIMAX!", and possibly funniest of all of all, "KA-FUCK!"
    • In the space of two pages in the first chapter of Pandora Hearts, we have "GRAB," "FIDGET," "SURPRISE," and of course, "THREATENING ATMOSPHERE."
    • Otome Kikan Gretel has a rather freaked out Yuu with the effect "startle." (next to, of course, someone who talks with hearts
    • Chi's Sweet Home uses a number of these, including things like "dejected" and "loom."
    • When the author of Kaiji discovered there wasn't an onomatopoeia for dramatic tension, he invented his own: ZAWA.
    • Manga such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bleach, and Shaman King often throw "DOOM" on dramatic panels. Even more dramatic panels might get "DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM".
    • In Doctor Slump, Genki Girl Arale's greetings are so loud and boisterous that the sound effect for it ("KON'CHWA!", approximately, due to a Verbal Tic) easily dwarfs her and knocks the people she greets off their feet. The aliens attempt to weaponize this power, but fail every time.
    • Fai of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts saying "Fiuuu" instead of whistling, for which Kurogane mocks him. It later turns out that he did that because his whistling has magical powers, though.
    • In The Mikos Words and The Witches Incantations, the Mountain God offers Isuzu some sweet rice balls with a "Proffer!".
    • The presence of a Battle Aura or similar mind state (even an unshown one) is often accompanied with a "go go go ..." ("ゴ ゴ ゴ ...").
    • As demonstrated by the above examples, manga has sound effects for everything. There's even a sound effect to indicate silence.
      • Shi—in
    • One episode of Soul Eater parodies this trope. A fistfight between two gangs features such Unsound Effects as 'AH!', 'YEAH!' 'NICE!', 'PENCIL!' and 'AMERICA!'.
    • In Area no Kishi when Kouta gets especially irritated with his teammate Nishijima, a "Glare" sound effect is displayed in the panel.
    • Rika's catchphrase - "Ni-pah!"
    • Baby Steps: After his first grueling day of tennis training, protagonist E-chan's inability to stand up from his desk was denoted by "shivering" sound effects.
    • The Ranma ½ manga is lousy with the "Boot" onomatopoeia for whenever someone gets punted into the sky by a Megaton Kick. Ironically enough, NONE of the characters in the series, with the exception of Ryoga, ever wear boots.
      • We also got LOOOOOOOOM for bad guys looking Badass followed by a much smaller LOOOOM for the good guys trying to but not managing it.
    • A Lollipop or A Bullet features a non-humorous in-universe example when newly-arrived Strange Girl Umino Masachika introduces herself to the class:

    Masachika: Then please treat me well.
    Masachika: Bow.
    Nonplussed Student: She actually said "Bow"!

    • By the fourth episode of Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, the sound effects have branched out into unusual territory. "Nice Dunk!", "Muffin Top", and "Red Carpet" (yeah...) are just a few examples.
      • A crowning example occurs in Episode 11: Panty is channel-surfing, and while we can't see the TV, we can see the Written Sound Effects that each channel produces. The first channel goes "Blah Blah Blah," the second channel goes "Yak Yak Yak," and the third channel goes "A Cock Sucker."
    • During an undersea episode early in the Keroro Gunsou anime, Keroro's platoon accidentally fire several torpedos at a city on the bottom of the sea. He hopes they all miss, but...they all hit. All of them. Direct hits too. The platoon's reaction can only be described as "Atmosphere of Oh Shit".
      • In one chapter of the manga, Kululu decides to shake his team-mates out of a streak of complacency by brain-washing their friends and forcing them to fight. Fuyuki offers to face Keroro in a riddle contest instead, to which Keroro responds "Alright, but I should warn you, Master Fuyuki, I filibuster all riddles!" As the other members of the Keroro Platoon do battle, you can see little word balloons with the words "Riddle!" and "Filibuster!" in the background.
    • The Naruto manga has "DREAMY!".
      • At least one scanlator translated the sound made by Madara teleporting to some place as "appear".'
      • Deidara's explosions are always preceded by Yeeaagh! in the English manga. This lends itself to a Woolseyism when some of his bombs land near Tobi:

    Tobi: Time out, partner! Don't Yeeaagh yet!


    Comic Books

    • Acme Novelty Lirary by Chris Ware, auther of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth takes this trope to a new level by featuring a panel that says "Onomatopoeia: front door opening"
    • In X-Men, at least one X-Babies encounter ("Mojo Mayhem") has gone this way (with arguing murmurs written as "argue" or "debate" or "mutter" and the like.)
      • Chris Claremont (as noted above, since he wrote the X-Babies storyline) tended to use this device, especially toward the end of his stint on Uncanny X-Men. In one issue we see an angry mob in the distance, and as they approach their angry murmuring is expressed as unsounds expressing their intent to do horrible things to the object of their wrath, such as "murder," "mutilate," "bludgeon", and "sue".
      • In one issue by Claremont, Jubilee is served some Foreign Queasine and reacts with "That's it, that's it, that's IT!", followed by a speech bubble simply saying "hate, scream, cry, rage, rant, gripe, shriek!"
    • Subverted in an issue of the Thor comic book, where the Hulk hits Thor with an entire freight train (complete with attached cars). The editor's note on the page confesses that there's no onomatopoeia there because nothing they could think of would do the scene justice.
      • The same thing happened when the Thing punched Sandman into his component particles while both were underwater.
    • Mad, illustrating the reality of a six-man utility crew - one guy digging a hole (accompanied by the sound effect "dig") while the other five are in various states of leisure (accompanied by "eat", "siiiip", "snooze", "hang out", and "read").
      • Another comic features a massive five-way collision accompanied by "HORRENDOUS UNSPELLABLE SOUND EFFECT!"
      • Wally Wood once told a detective story entirely in pictures and exaggerated sound effects (with a couple of unsounds). All the murder victims produced the same sequence of AAAARGH!..THUD...BOUNCE BOUNCE and, in the first case the guy who had been shot rounded off with a quiet BLEED BLEED. The detective was quite mystified by the screams until he realized that the killer was one Joe Aaaargh, alias Joe Eeeech, alias Joe Uuuuugh.
    • The New Yorker had a cartoon by Roz Chast called "No Action Comics." It had sound effects like "MULL! MULL!" and "WORRY! WORRY!"
    • Tiny Titans gives us some like CHAIR! and TIE!
    • Frequently used in Twisted ToyFare Theatre. Examples include Spider-Man running across some assorted Beanie Baby animals. Some go "moo moo", some go "oink oink" and some go "kangaroo sound kangaroo sound". And when he gets them to stampede, it's "angry moo, angry moo" and "angry kangaroo sound, angry kangaroo sound".
      • A much, much later strip features Christian Bale interrupting the Manly Men of Action's dancing with the sound effect of "record screeching to a halt!" Dolph Lundgren then displays his musical talent by playing a drum solo; the sound effect is "Drum Solo!"
    • Spider-Man: BUTTT!
    • German comic artist Ralf König is good at this. he rather describes the mood of scenes with his unsounds. One scene shows a guy laying in bed, hearing "sounds" like "cooking coffee" and "doorclap".
    • The Tick (animation) is also fond of this, with the best being "CONTEMPLATE!"
      • In the first issue, The Tick and Clark Oppenheimer are fighting in a subway tunnel, when a train hits them, making the following noises: *BANG* *CRASH* *REALLY LOUD NOISE!*
      • *TUSSLE*
    • Amerimanga Ninja High School has used literal sound effects from the beginning of its run. They do sort of mirror manga's onomonepetic effects, but Ben Dunn has admitted he got the idea from Richie Rich.
      • One example: a character lifts a huge tree out of the ground, to the sound of *UPROOT*
      • The Time Traveling schoolteacher whisks a cloth away from her time machine: REVEAL! Also, two girls ponder a question with the effects: THINK THINK THINK THINK.
    • The City of Heroes comic has a Mook cry out in pain: "MMORPG!!"
    • De Familie Fortuin, a Dutch comic about the titular white trash family, has used such sound effects as *ENORMOUS EXPLOSION! FLYING BODY PARTS! BLEEDING GUMS! COOL MAN!* and *EXPLODING SCHOOL WITH EVERYONE INSIDE*.
    • Dinosaurs for Hire featured Archie the T.rex dusting himself off ("dust, dust") and Reese the Stegosaurus adjusting his eyepatch ("adjust").
    • Another Dutch comic, De Generaal had one when the eponymous general is dropped with tank and all from a hot air balloon (don't ask): *SMASH OF GIGANTIC PROPORTIONS!*
    • A series of Disney albums had Goofy playing different historical persons. In the Beethoven story all sound words were composer names. Knocking on a door sounded like BACH BACH, knocking over a pile of stuff produced a loud BRAHMS and so on.
    • Speaking of Disney, a Darkwing Duck comic in Disney Adventures had some offstage action indicated with words like "BLUDGEON" and "ASPHYXIATE." Lampshaded by onlookers.
    • Unsound effects were used a lot in Erika Fuchs's German Disney translations (one of her more creative ones was where "censored" was replaced by "Einziger Aufschrei der erregten Massen" (single outcry of the excited masses"). German-speakers brought up on Fuchs' Donald Duck comics will sometimes use such unsound effects like "grübel, grübel" (ponder, ponder), and at conventions of the D. O. N. A. L. D. (Deutsche Organisation Nichtkommerzieller Anhänger des lauteren Donaldismus = German Organisation of Non-Commercial Adherents of Pure Donaldism) they customarily applaud by chanting "klatsch, klatsch, klatsch!" (clap, clap, clap!).
    • BOWL! (Note that it's not the sound of bowling; it's the sound of some guy going to a bowling alley. Yeah.) Also, DREAM! MAGIC!
    • The Incredible Hercules no longer even tries to have standard sound effects. Instead, the sound of an impressive punch to the face is WHATAMANNN, a dragon's firebreath goes SMAAAAAAAAAUG and an attack aimed squarely at the opponent's nipples is represented with a bright purple NURP.
      • Arguably the best sound effect ever: Hercules smashing a wall while impersonating Thor: GODDATHUNDAA!
      • Hercules punching Thor in the face in mid-sentence: SUKKAPUNCH!
      • The sequel miniseries, Prince of Power, carries on the grand tradition with getting chucked into a table being IKKKEA!, among others.
    • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comics had unsound effects in the early days before they went down the toilet. Two that stand out are "RABOOM" and "ROBOOMNIK". Guess who was getting blown up on those occasions.
    • Scott Pilgrim has a number of these, including "GLARE", "FLING", the rather puffy and cute "POUT", and "BOSS FIGHT."
    • Brandon Graham's King City has "TOAST" as a sound effect for when some bread pops out of a toaster.
    • In The Goon, rather than show all the gruesome details of Frankie's signature "attack," it's just presented as a black panel with "KNIFE TO THE EYE!" written in big white letters.
    • Hate does this a lot.
    • Scud the Disposable Assassin uses such sound effects as "KICK UP!" (Scud kicking a Mook's laser cannon out of the way) and "GROSS!" (A character getting his head graphically blown apart)
    • The Super Mario Adventures series does this fairly frequently, with onomatopoeia such as "PEEP", "LEER", "DASH", "LOOOM", "SKEDADDLE" and "TIPPITY-TOE"
    • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic decided to represent the sound of Buffy and Dracula crashing to the ground from a tower in a shower of broken glass as "Land!"
    • At least one Matt Howarth comic used the effect "REALLY LOUD SOUND BUT YOU CAN'T HEAR IT" repeated over and over in the background of a panel for some kind of reality warping effect.
    • Whenever superspeedster the Blur uses his powers in Grounded, the sound effect is "Sonic BOOM!"
    • In Requiem: Vampire Knight the Impaler (the cool-as-hell stake gun) goes "TEPES!" when it's fired.
    • Brazilian comic Monica's Gang has a huge slew of onomatopoeia, but a few enter this trope, such as "COICE" (Portuguese for horse kick) and "HOPPITY" (to which a character asks "what kind of onomatopoeia is that?").
    • In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, "The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark", our intrepid hero experiences the Krakatoa explosion firsthand (he did, however, stuff his ears full of cotton, which somehow worked). We are treated to a beautiful rendition of the explosion, but the sound-bubble only contains an asterisk. A note from the editor points out:

    In consideration of the fact that on August 27, 1883, the island of Krakatoa exploded with a force equivalent to 10,000 hydrogen bombs and produced the loudest noise in history, we deemed it wise to delete the sound effect to preserve the sanity (and ears) of our readers.


    Fan Works


    Ichigo-san looked at Artemis. "Did you just say the word 'nyan' instead of purring?"
    "Don't be silly..." Naru-san said,


    "Did you just say the word 'squee' instead of squeeing?" Artemis asked.
    "Don't be silly," Ichigo-san replied with a grin.



    • Subtitles for the hearing impaired can come off a bit like this when done badly. There's no better mood killer in the middle of a romantic moment than seeing *dramatic music intensifies* pop up on screen.
      • How about "Cows moo"?
      • This annoys the hearing impaired to no end. There are two versions of subtitles on some (or most) dvds, CC (Closed Captioning) and another one - the one that has the "music intensifies." CC is just the words that they say, and should basically reflect the script's dialog in a timed fashion.
    • In Blazing Saddles, this is lampshaded during a meeting with the governor. After it's announced that Rock Ridge had been bombed, the Governor shouts "We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!" Everyone else says Harumph along with him, with one notable exception. "I didn't get a 'harumph' out of that guy."
    • Yyyyaaaaaaaaakkkkk....
    • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World includes this as abundantly as it was in the comic book.
      • DEATH GLARE.
    • In the movie Despicable Me, Gru actually says "Lightbulb" whenever he gets an idea.
    • Simon Pegg's character in Hot Fuzz says "idea" when, well, coming up with an idea. Thanks to the numerous cop show references there are a number of instances of characters Saying Sound Effects Out Loud.
    • Being based on the 1960s live-action TV series, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders uses Unsound Effects in its fight scenes, and adds a few new ones (including "Spork!" and "Zot!")


    • Gaspode, a talking dog in the Discworld series, says 'woof'. Due to a near-universal Weirdness Censor, this mostly just makes people look at him funny.
      • And there's a recurring theme in Discworld of "words for the sounds that things would make if they did make a sound except that they don't".
        • These are usually associated with reflected light, and for some reason usually begin with "gl." "Glint," "gleam," and "glisten" are given as examples.

    Live-Action TV

    • The "Bicycle Repairman" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus has intertitle cards with effects like: "Screw!", "Bend!", "Inflate!", and "Alter Saddle!"
    • The 1960s Batman TV series had sound effects in every fight scene, and always slipped a few unsounds in as well (e.g. "Sock!" or "Ouch!").
      • The Monkees parody this in one episode with a fight that has words like Rumble! Plink! Plank! Plunk! Miss! Foo! Bing! Bong! Bang! Splat! Kretch! Plop! Splinter! on the screen. (At the word Kretch, Peter Tork stops fighting, looks into the camera, and says, "Kretch???" before they agree to stop fighting and start breaking furniture.)
      • The Avengers also parodies this in "The Winged Avenger". At the end of the episode, Steed fights the villain by hitting him with poster-sized mockups of comic book panels, each containing a word like "Pow!" and "Splat!" Meanwhile, "Batman"-like music is playing in the background.
    • When a piece of viewer mail on Attack of the Show! asked what kind of sound effect they would want to have if they were in a comic, Kevin Pereira admitted he would want the word "SKANK!" to pop up when he slapped someone in the face.
    • The Muppet Show did a sketch entirely in action and spoken sound/unsound words. It started with a creature (possibly played by Animal[please verify]) trudging through the wilderness while muttering "trudge trudge trudge" until it got interrupted by something flying past with a loud "FLY! FLY!" which made it stop and go "ponder... ponder... ponder..." as it, well, pondered the strange event. After this had happened a couple of times the wanderer lost its patience and went "fret foam" as it picked up a heavy stick, and the next time the flyer passed it got stopped by a massive SMASH SMASH!
    • On The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien visits a Foley stage and makes his own sound effects, including a shout of "Throw baby!" when a character throws a baby.
    • While the well-loved "Sound Effects" game in Whose Line Is It Anyway? tends to slip into Saying Sound Effects Out Loud instead, a recent session in Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza flies straight into this trope when one audience member, faced with voicing over flexing biceps, actually goes "Magnificent!" and "Powerful!" for each arm. And flexing buttcheeks go "Beyonce!" for some reason.
      • During one game of "Props", Wayne had to somehow mime being a lamp that was turned on. So he just simply said "ON!" loudly.


    • P.D.Q. Bach's Good King Kong Looked Out has a choir singing an Unsound Effect - "hear", in this case - because seriously, what onomatopoeia could possibly used?
    • In Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America, Christopher Columbus' crew indicate their displeasure with a chant of "rumble rumble rumble, mutiny mutiny mutiny". This has achieved a Memetic Mutation status, and Tyne Daly mentioning the phrase to Freberg got her a role in the sequel to the program.
    • On the Who song "A Quick One While He's Away," the band had originally planned to have a cello accompaniment in one section. But the money ran out, so the band just sang "cello cello cello cello" in the background over and over.

    Newspaper Comics

    • In an early (1950s-era) Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is perplexed when Lucy tosses a pebble into a pond with a "ker-SPLASH!", and Linus jumps into a pile of leaves with a "ker-LEAF!".
      • There was also one about how Snoopy doesn't like to be scratched on the head; he prefers to be "skritched." Sure enough, when Schroeder works his fingers on Snoopy's head, the sound is "Skritch skritch skritch."
      • Another strip has Linus telling Charlie Brown that it's "soppping wet" outside. Charlie Brown remarks "I think you mean sopping wet", followed by Snoopy walking in accompanied by sound effects of "SOPPP SOPPP SOPPP".
      • In yet another strip, one of Snoopy's bird friends goes, "Gripe gripe gripe, complain complain complain, crab crab crab," after which Snoopy wonders, "If he doesn't like it, why does he go there every year?"
    • One Bloom County featured the wonderfully memorable "unprovoked KICK!"
    • A Calvin and Hobbes strip has Calvin walking around in galoshes that go "galosh galosh galosh".
      • In a school strip, the teacher asks Calvin to name the old capital of Poland, and hears him mutter, "KRAKOW! KRAKOW!" which happens to be the right answer but is really a sound effect from his Imagine Spot about Spaceman Spiff fighting aliens.
      • Yet another involves Calvin asking Hobbes to go spelunking. When Hobbes points out that there are no caves nearby, Calvin takes him to a lake and they proceed to drop rocks into the water... which make a "spelunk" sound effect.
    • The Wizard of Id is fond of this trope, using such sound effects as "Deliberate deliberate deliberate" for a jury.
      • Or (from the underground press) "Print print print".
    • There is a Garfield comic where Garfield is unscrewing a saltshaker with the sound effect *unscrew* hanging in midair. It's unclear how that sounds any different from just plain ol' screwing.
    • One FoxTrot strip used *crank* and *uncrank* for the sound of someone turning up, then turning down, a thermostat.
    • For Better or For Worse is in love with this trope—partly because every other Sunday strip is mostly silent, save for the Unsound Effects flying all over the place. One panel where the family dog was eating something was accompanied by *gobble snarf eat*.
      • Another, dealing with Elly's frustrations with a fax/copier, had UNPLUG, although the design of the balloon made it ambiguous whether that was a sound effect or Elly loudly vocalizing the action as a form of venting.
    • A Zits strip showed Jeremy taking a test, with the Unsound Effect "Essay! Essay! Essay! Essay! Essay!"
      • At one point he was also seen using a computer, with the UE "double-click"
    • Pens in the Pearls Before Swine world make "write write write" and "scribble scribble scribble" sounds when used. The creator, Stefan Pastis, admits to this bit of creative license in the book commentaries.
      • At least in the early days of the strip, there would also be "sound" effects such as "run run run run" and "hurl!"

    Video Games

    • In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, you have to help a Kimono Girl whose sandals are frozen to the ground in the Ice Cave. You do this by shoving her. The sound effect shown in the text box for this? "Shove!"
    • NANACA†CRASH!! has "DEATH?" when you hit one of the guys, as well as "SLOW DOWN" and "STOP!" and others, though those might just be describing what happened to you rather than being actual sound effects.
    • The instruction manual for the PlayStation 2 game Flower, Sun, and Rain includes screenshots accompanied by ordinary sound effect words, until one image gets the effect "KATHARINE!"
    • *gobble* *snarf* *snap* HP/MP restored, and status ailments like Poison cured!
    • In Team Fortress 2, scoring a Critical Hit on an enemy causes CRITICAL HIT!!! to appear over his head. These are only visible to the player responsible.
      • Subsequent updates have added "MINI CRIT" (from the Jarate and Buff Banner), "MISS" (from Bonk), and "YIKES!" (being scared by the ghost in the Halloween event map.
      • This Saxton Hale comic has soundeffects that include "BRAVE JUMP" and "FLAWLESS ROLL"
      • The Mac Update features PROPERTY DAMAGE!
        • And BRAVE PRESS and A BOLD NEW PLAN!. Saxton Hale uses this trope a lot.
          • If Saxton Hale says that "PROPERTY DAMAGE" is a sound effect, it IS a sound effect. If you want to question this fact, Saxton Hale will gladly demonstrate.
        • NEMESIS KICK!
        • Not even Saxton's ancestor Barnabus is immune to this. COUGAR!
        • The Smissmass Update also brings us COMPOUND ELEVATED SKULL FRACTURE.
    • Any Valve game since Half-Life 2 has this in the closed captions. Includes things like "*pain!*", "*laughter*", "[Crowbar Thwap!]", "[Bullet--Near Miss!]", "[Engine starting in water]", "[Headcrab Burning]", and of course, "[Beep-beep-beeeeeeeeep.] User Fatality.". Portal brings us "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee[bzzt]", "[Peppy Music]" and "[Calming Wind]".
    • The planting of a Doom-Shroom in Plants vs. Zombies is immediately followed by an explosive "DOOM!"
    • In Return to Zork, the first hint that a duck is really a transformed wizard is the fact that it actually says "quack quack" in a human voice.
    • The World Ends With You: Bling!
    • A cheat in Age of Empires III, in reference to Teen Girl Squad (see just below), causes an effect that when a unit dies, the name of its killer pops up above it, followed by "-ed". So units can get "Musketeer'ed!", "Imperial Rocket'ed!", or, in one campaign level, "Fixed Gun Ruins'ed!".
    • In Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World, when a bomb explodes (or when Mario destroys a castle), "BOMB!" appears.
    • An April Fool's joke for City of Heroes was that all in-game sounds would be replaced with onomatopoeia, including for energy-based attacks FREEM!!!
    • Persona 3 has "GLARE" appear occasionally.
    • In Brutal Legend, there is a scene where Ophelia stabs a Druid. SHANK!
    • Freedom Force, as a homage to the Silver Age, features this in spades. Every attack has an Unsound Effect.
    • In fanworks based on Touhou, the "ZUN!" unsound effect is popular. It's often used for dramatic or shocking moments. It's a reference to ZUN, the pen name of the series creator.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, the Tonberry summon has a pronounced "doink!" to accompany the GF stabbing the summon's target with a chef's knife.

    Web Animation

    Web Comics


    Lieutenant: What are they going to do? Take a potshot through two layers of hullmetal?
    P O T S H O T
    Corporal: Correction. Two layers of hullmetal and one lieutenant.


    Web Original

    Western Animation

    • The Fairly OddParents once had "Replacement hamster!" as a Written Sound Effect. For someone being punched: HURT!
      • Unsound Effects are practically a Running Gag at this point; they show up in nearly every episode.
      • The words written on the "Poof" clouds when Cosmo and Wanda (actually any magic-using character, actually) does something with magic are usually related to a wish or another event. Norm the Genie, on the other hand, only has "GONG!". The Pixies have "PING!", as well. Unsound effects show up a great deal in the Crimson Chin comics, which of course are parodies of normal superhero comics, which love this trope.


    • The best comes from the opening cutscene of a videogame, where Cosmo summons up Da Rules with the "Poof" cloud "PLOT DEVICE!"
    • Appearances by Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob SquarePants often use these as part of their being a Batman spoof: "HANG UP!" "SIT!" "WINK!"
      • NAP!
      • KING ME! when the characters were playing checkers.
      • Not to mention the production values of their old show: PROP! CARDBOARD! LAME!
    • The Looney Tunes short "Now Hear This" climaxes with a gigantic explosion, accompanied by the words "GIGANTIC EXPLOSION" appearing onscreen. It was used again in the Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner short "Soup or Sonic", to cap off the penultimate scene.
      • When Bugs first sees the spaceship in "The Hasty Hare", he says "Gulp!"
    • When the townspeople of South Park get upset, they form a mob and just yell "RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!"
      • Which was once lampshaded by the mayor when she responded by asking the crowd how they thought standing around yelling "RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE" was going to help.
    • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Batmantis", Space Ghost notes the presence of word balloons out of the 1960s Batman series: "Oh, look! Shoot a ray, and you get a word." He then produces word balloons reading "Obvious Parody!", "Insipid!", "Kenny Rogers!", and three paragraphs of unreadably-small text on the theory of evolution.
    • The Self-Medication episode of The Venture Brothers features a bar fight chock full of these: examples include "Judo!" "Cower!" and "Torn Meniscus!"
    • A Scott Pilgrim parody on MAD had "PUBLIC DOMAIN MUSIC".
    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One", Applejack and her friends are up to something in the barn at Sweet Apple Acres, and keeping it a secret from Pinkie Pie. Applejack tells a skeptical Pinkie that they're doing renovations, and has the other girls make construction noises in the background... which includes Twilight Sparkle shouting "Safety gear!" and Rainbow Dash saying "Drill, drill!"
    • The "Good Manners with Max" shorts on the old Playhouse Disney block always began like this:

    Max: Hi, my name is Max, and this is my dog Banjo. Say hi, Banjo.
    Banjo: Bark!

    1. "Jii..." is for some reason the Japanese onomatopoeia for staring.
    2. "Gabeen" is the Japanese onomatopoeia for a jaw-drop or similar shocked reaction.
    3. the Duplicator being reversed
    4. Weird that the motorcycle guy landed right where Doc had painted WHCRUNCH in his parking lot. Because that's probably exactly what it sounded like.
    5. There is no feasible onomatopoeia of this.
    6. There was not actually a poof noise.