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Gah! That sound!

But it got your attention, didn't it?

Seriously, there's no better way to arrest attention than to screeEEEEeeeeEEEEEeeEEEEEEEK!

[shudder chill] better way to arrest attention than to rake a nail or two across a blackboard. Usually works best with actual nails or a piece of chalk (especially a long, fresh piece), but some Badass Normals can use their finger nails. In the absence of a chalkboard, a sharp object against glass produces a similar sound.


Will you STOP that!!! Fun fact: certain schools of thought posit that the reaction to this sound is an atavistic response to when humanity's pre-evolved ancestors used a similar noise to warn each other of danger that should be fled from at once.

See also Sinister Scraping Sound, a dangerous Sister Trope. Believe it or not, Wikipedia actually has its own article about it.

Examples of Nails on a Blackboard include:


  • Great Teacher Onizuka.
  • It was also in Excel Saga, but done with a knife glove. Luckily for the audience, the sound was replaced with music.
  • And Crossworlds. Although that was on a stalagmite. It gains extra kudos for being weaponized -- the sound being used to disable a sharp-eared cat-person.
  • One Piece has it too. It's called Usopp Noise.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. In the last episode Kaname does this to calm a mass panic. She's badass enough that it works immediately.
  • In Dragon Ball, whistling has this effect on Namekians
  • In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, the main characters have been asked to retrieve an easel from the art room, which the art club has outfitted with a number of horror props. Namiko wants to get the object (though they've forgotten what it was), and leave, but Tomokane is determined not to be defeated in that way. Namiko has Miyabi stop her, and this is what she comes up with... to the displeasure of everyone else in the room.


  • Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
  • Quint, making his legendary entrance in Jaws.
  • And it was used in The Pink Panther Strikes Again as Cool and Unusual Punishment. The villain puts on a steel gauntlet from a suit of armor, grins at the tied-up female, walks to the slate blackboard, and -- CUT! to quite a distance away, outside, and you STILL hear it. And her screaming.
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
  • The soundtrack of The Dark Knight somehow manages to incorporate this (fittingly, as the Joker's motif). Have a listen.
  • Freddy used this to torture a deaf character in the sixth installment.
    • Freddy stole the deaf kid's hearing aid, turned the volume up to 11, gave it back, (made it unremovable via literal Ear Worm) and dragged his murder-glove all over a giant chalkboard. Then the deaf kid's head exploded.
    • He also used it to less fatal and more annoying effect in movie number 4. Give a guy a glove with sharp metal claws and it's inevitable that sooner or later he will do this, psychopath or no.
    • Using other surfaces to evoke this trope practically became Freddy's self-made theme music.
  • Weirdly and subtly used in the original short film 9, when the cat-beast has 9 cornered and rakes its claws across some nearby cement.
  • Inverted in The Final Destination, where the salon scene contains some slightly unnerving shots of the pedicurist scraping a metal tool along the underside of a soon-to-be victim's toenail. The sound of the scraping is plainly heard, and unpleasant.
  • The Grinch in the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas reproduces this sound by scraping his nails/fingers along the side of a car.
  • In Ernest Scared Stupid, a young Ernest does this in a flashback before getting whacked in the head by his teacher.


  • One Goosebumps short story features a school that punishes bad kids by making them listen to nails on a chalkboard for all eternity.
  • Septimus Heap
    • Physik compares Queen Etheldredda's voice to this sound.
    • According to Magyk, Magogs enjoy this sound and make it in their freetime.

Live Action TV

  • An early Invention Exchange on Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the Mads' "Chalk Man", a record player with a fake hand on the tonearm (with real human fingernails!) played against a chalkboard record in order to compel party guests to leave at 3 AM.


  • In an 80's Cracked Magazine sendup about what would happen if the Moral Guardians forced the A-Team to be less violent, the A-Team is forced to use less violent methods of subduing the villains. It concludes with B.A. scraping his nails across a blackboard to make the kidnappers surrender.


  • First thing heard in the opening title-track of Krabathor's Orthodox album.

Newspaper Comics

  • One Garfield strip had Garfield threaten to do this near Jon so he would give him the last cup of coffee in the house.
    • The logo box of another strip shows Garfield and Odie standing in front of a blackboard with Garfield's name carved in it. Odie looks extremely unnerved, and one of Garfield's claws is sticking out.

Professional Wrestling

  • Part of the theme music for the WWE's "Dean Douglas," also known as Shane Douglas.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons has done this quite a few times -- one time featured Groundskeeper Willie doing it on a stained glass window, in a direct parody of Quint's use of the trope.
  • In one episode of Arthur, the title character daydreams that a villainous teacher is using the noise for torture rather than for straight attention-getting.
  • On the Tex Avery cartoon One Ham's Family, when the villain is indisposed, the main character decides to "heckle you folks out there" while he returns. So he takes out a chalkboard and a piece of chalk and screeches away.
  • One South Park episode has Mr Garrison using a rusty nail to write on the chalkboard, because lawsuits have made chalk too expensive for the school.
  • In AAAHH!!! Real Monsters, a human kid disguised as a monster wins big points with the teacher for doing this.
  • The Jaws scene is also spoofed in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob, Sandy and the Worm". The character doing it just wanted to know where the bathroom was.
  • Two Stupid Dogs had this when Mr. H wrote his name on a chalkboard when he was substituting a class. It was excruciatingly long, and was enough to blow out the school's windows out. Just when the students think it's over, he adds a final scrEE! for the period.
  • In an episode of Tale Spin, Don Karnage puts on a Tiger's Claw glove and proceeds to rake it across a chalkboard to get his victim to talk.
  • Alvin does this in the Alvin and The Chipmunks episode The Brunch Club in order to get a confession out of Brittany.
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