WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

When something big, loud, shaky, or forceful happens, we may hear car alarms going off outside or offscreen to indicate the magnitude of this event. If it's really big, it'll set off all the car alarms in the area.

Similar to Disturbed Doves, That Poor Cat.

Loud sounds can indeed shake a car enough to set off the alarm, making this Truth in Television.

Not to be confused with extreme damage to a car, although sometimes they overlap where the extreme damage also causes the car alarm to go off.

Examples of That Poor Car include:


  • In the 2008 The Incredible Hulk movie this happens during the fight between the Hulk and the Abomination.
  • Cloverfield: the first sign of the monster is a tremor causing car alarms to go off.
  • In Iron Man 2 a couple of car alarms go off as Iron Man and War Machine fly noisily through a parking lot; half a second later Ivan Venko's air capable Hammer Drones pass through making even more noise, setting almost all the cars off.
  • In Tremors, the Gummers' SUV is destroyed by a Graboid after its burrowing disturbs the ground underneath the vehicle and sets off its car alarm.
  • Those poor bikes in Mystery Team.
  • In Highlander the first quickening sets off several car alarms.
  • The Iron Giant has the rare case of the car alarm going off due to direct contact with the vehicle. Basically, the Iron Giant, when he and Hogarth discover the junkyard that Dean works at, starts eating everything in there. It then eats a car... which hadn't had its alarm system removed yet, causing the car alarm to go off.


  • In a rare literature example, in Animorphs Jake sent Marco to cause a disturbance and every car had a car alarm. Really, really much funnier in text.
  • Harry Turtledove's The Case of the Toxic Spelldump creates a Magitek version, the sylphs that power magic carpets are supposed to scream if the carpet is stolen. Instead, they scream incessantly at the slightest provocation.
    • So, just like real car alarms...

Live Action TV

  • In the Torchwood episode "Exit Wounds", the city wide bombing of Cardiff by Capt. John Hart sets off these. Later in Children of Earth: "Day One" when the government blows up the Hub this happens.
  • In the third season finale of Criminal Minds, the episode ends with nearby car alarms blaring after an SUV explodes. The catch? One of the main characters (the audience is not told who until the season 4 premiere) is about to get into the SUV when it explodes.
  • In the second Top Gear US special, Clarkson and Hammond set off a whole line of parked cars in Vegas by revving the engines of their muscle cars as loudly as possible. Unfortunately for them, this quickly drew the attention of the local authorities.
  • One episode of Pimp My Ride featured one car whose alarm could not stop going off.

Video Games

  • At one point in the Video Game Awards 2011 exclusive trailer for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden kicks an enemy soldier into a parked black car hard enough to set off the car alarm and nearly flips it over. Raiden then remarks shortly afterwards "too easy!" before cutting him up.

Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons [2F31] "A Star is Burns", Jay outdoes Homer with a foghorn burp that sets off car alarms.
  • In Pelswick, Gram Gram was said to snore so loud that it set off all the car alarms on the street.

Real Life

  • Anyone with an aftermarket car stereo knows how easy it is to set off entire blocks just by driving down the street with the bass turned up.
  • Ditto loud claps of thunder.
  • Whenever there's an earthquake, it doesn't have to be a huge one, just one that slightly shakes the house enough to make dishes fall.
  • Older car alarms were notorious for being extremely sensitive to motion/touch.
  • Go to a Civil War Reenactment, and wait for the cannons to start firing. You will suddenly hear a dozen honking, beeping anachronisms.
  • Military bases tend to have large ceremonies involving cannon fire for various occasions. It didn't take long for most bases to start issuing notices of said ceremonies and asking everyone to disable their alarms before the ceremony was scheduled to begin.
  • Less triumphant than the previous examples, but marching band competitions tend to do this, especially if the competitors are heavy on the percussion.
  • Airshows involving military aircraft with afterburners will almost certainly result in a few cars wailing nearby.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.