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I believe in giving every movie the benefit of the doubt. I walked into The Waterboy, sat down, took a sip of my delicious medium roast coffee and felt at peace with the world. How nice it would be, I thought, to give Adam Sandler a good review for a change. Goodwill and caffeine suffused my being, and as the lights went down I all but beamed at the screen. Then Adam Sandler spoke, and all was lost. His character's voice is made of a lisp, a whine, a nasal grating and an accent that nobody in Louisiana actually has, although the movies pretend that they do.

You've heard it a million times. A character will open his mouth to speak, and the minute he does you immediately know that this character is stupid. Whether he's an over-muscled Mook or the Plucky Comic Relief, the one thing you can tell just by his voice is the fact that his elevator just doesn't go all the way to the top floor.

Very common in animated works, because allegedly such an obvious characterization tool appeals to children. In The Golden Age of Animation, this sort of voice was used a lot by characters who were a parody of Lenny from the film adaptation of Of Mice and Men.

When the character is male, generally expect a halting voice in the low registers, or else a high-pitched quavering, with most sentences beginning with the word 'duh'. When the character is female, expect a high-pitched nasally whine or an even higher-pitched squeak-fest. Often, characters with this voice will use poor grammar. Male characters often substitute the t or d sounds for the th sound, like saying "dat" for "that." A Valley Girl accent helps for female ditzes, as it makes them fall into the category of "Kill her, I can't take her voice anymore!"

A very common characteristic of Mooks and The Ditz.

Examples of Simpleton Voice include:


Advertising

Abridged Series

Anime and Manga

  • Dorodoron's voice from Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star sounds very similar to this type, sounding rather like Grounder from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog would if he was speaking Japanese.
  • The French dub of Dragonball Z is notable for giving an extraordinarily nasal voice to Vegeta of all people. It's been theorized that not having read the entire story, the voice actors had originally expected him to be a generic cartoon villain, and thus gave him a generic cartoon villain voice; cue Heel Face Turn...
    • It was never a "moron" voice though, more of a "evil schemer with permanent Psychotic Smirk" voice.

Comic Books

Film - Animation

Film - Live Action

Literature

  • Referenced in the novel version of Flowers for Algernon; Charlie notes that he had a stupid-sounding voice before his increase in intelligence, and he lapses back into it whenever he gets drunk.

Live Action TV

  • Pets, Aiku and inspector Kukeke from Wremja.
  • Michael Westen on Burn Notice occasionally affects something resembling this accent for his "Bubba"-ish characters.
  • The Pakleds in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Radio

Theater

Video Games

Web Original

  • Strong Mad from Homestar Runner speaks in an extremely exaggerated version of this trope, Played for Laughs. Most of his dialogue is nigh-unintelligible growls, but if you listen closely he is saying actual words...probably. Homestar Runner himself is a (somewhat) more subdued version of this trope.
    • Homsar. Dear God, HOMSAR.
  • The Nostalgia Chick did it in her review of Spice World.

 Mel B: "Girl power, feminism, you know what I mean?"

Chick: (in the stupidest voice she can manage) "No. Do you?"

Western Animation

  • Hyuck! Goofy (1932), first appearing in the early days of the sound era, may have been the very first cartoon character with a voice like this.
  • Homer Simpson is the leader of a small crowd of such characters from The Simpsons.
    • Quite ironically, Ralph Wiggum, a character well-known for being unintelligent, is an aversion of this trope. His voice is high-pitched because he's a child, not because he's dumb, and it is no higher than the other characters who are children.
    • Parodied/subverted with Oxford "Ox" Haas, one of the soldiers Grampa Simpson served with in World War II in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish." He spoke with this voice, and looked exactly like the kind of person who would.

 Burns: How many of you are familiar with the concept of a "tontine"?

(Beat; all stare at Burns silently, until Ox raises his hand).

Burns: All right, Ox. Why don't you take us through it?

Ox: Duh, essentially, we all enter into a contract whereby the last surviving participant becomes the sole possessor of...all them purty pictures.

    • In one Imagine Spot where Lisa imagines her future after losing her intelligence, she's inexplicably gained a southern accent.
  • Used in the Futurama episode "Fear of a Bot Planet" where the crew meets the council of robot elders. They promote human hunts to distract from their bigger problems.

 Elder 1: Like our crippling lugnut shortage.

Elder 2: And an incompetent group of robot elders.

Elder 3: Duh, that's for sure.

Elder 1: Quiet, Jimmy!

Real Life

Notes

  1. At least in the French version.
  2. Said in an over-the-top Canadian accent, exaggerated for comedic effect.
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