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File:Accent 1795.gif

Venkman: "Where the hell are you from, Johnny?"

Janosz: "De Upper Vest Side...?"

This Trope often comes in two forms but leaves the audience asking one question: What the Hell Is That Accent?

Sometimes, this comes about when the character will start using an accent for some reason or another. If the character knows what sort of accent they are going for then often it will sound nothing like it's supposed to (but then, of course, Reality Is Unrealistic may come into play here). Another character will often Lampshade this but it's not guaranteed.

Other times this will be the character's natural accent. They may be an alien from Planet Z or perhaps just from another country. Odds are good other aliens won't use the same accent, though.

Not to be confused with Not Even Bothering with the Accent where a character is supposed to be from Country Y but sounds just like the rest of the cast. May overlap with Just a Stupid Accent or As Long as It Sounds Foreign. If the accent starts recognizable but then inexplicably jumps on a cross-country road trip, then it's Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.

Examples of What the Hell Is That Accent? include:


Advertising

  • This Chinese Infomercial for King Double ceramic knives.
  • One GEICO commercial showed some people who were confused as to whether the Gecko's accent is British or Australian. The commercial cuts away just before he answers.


Anime&Manga

  • Sailor Moon has a few in the English dub. Most notably, Molly/Naru's inexplicable Boston/New York hybrid. In the middle of Japan. Note that HER MOTHER has no trace of this accent at all. Amy/Ami also has something that sounds like Mid-Atlantic meets generic Eastern European meets generic British.
    • Not to mention Chad/Yuuichirou's... surfer accent?
  • The English dub for Yu Yu Hakusho has Jin, who speaks in such a hilariously bad Irish accent, he's sometimes impossible to understand.


Film

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has Indy trying to do a Scottish accent that comes off sounding more like Chekhov of Star Trek. This is strange considering that the character grew up with a Scottish father. The butler he's talking to isn't fooled in the slightest. "If you are a Scottish lord then I am Mickey Mouse!"
  • Moulin Rouge has Christian's father with an accent that comes off best described as German-Scottish.
  • Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt in Watchmen. In public Veidt has an American accent, and it slips in and out of his native German accent when he lets his guard down, so it is intentionally meant to be a mixture in certain circumstances.
  • Harry Potter films.
    • Michael Gambon as Dumbledore was going for the late Richard Harris' accent, who did the part before him, as well as his native Irish accent.
    • Also Bill Nighy as Scrimgeour. He sounds like he's a Scotsman whose accent got lost in London, slept with Yorkshire, before going for drinks in Devon and waking up naked in a skip in Dublin., but at least it's consistent.
    • Isn't it just meant to be Welsh?
  • For Highlander, Christopher Lambert went to a lot of trouble to develop a mixed non-specific accent appropriate for an immortal who'd lived everywhere over the course of his centuries-long life. The intention is underlined by an early dialogue exchange when a cop tells MacLeod, "You talk funny," and asks where he's from. MacLeod answers, "Lots of different places." However, his straight Scottish accent in the Flashbacks is also a muddle. Lambert himself is from a French family and spent his early life in Switzerland.
  • The Room: Where the hell is Johnny supposed to be from? That voice is vaguely French, but not quite enough. Actor Tommy Wiseau is using his real life accent, but refuses to state his country of origin, claiming to be Cajun. One reviewer's best guess was Walloon (part of Belgium).
  • The girlfriend from Werewolf, who sounds like Tommy Wiseau.
  • Hannibal Lecter's accent in The Silence of the Lambs. He has bits of everything in it. This is easier to explain when considering his origin (something we only learn of in the book, to be fair). He was born in Lithuania and spent time in several countries, learning several languages in the process. His accent is bound to be a little bit of everything. Anthony Hopkins said he was going for a cross between Truman Capote and Katherine Hepburn.
  • Watson from the silly martial arts film Razor Sharpe.
  • Angelina Jolie as Olympias in Oliver Stone's Alexander. The intent was for her to have a vaguely foreign accent in order to accentuate her exotic "barbarian" nature. Historically, she came from Epirus, which is right near modern-day southern Albania, making this rather well-researched in terms of transferring accents.
  • Poor Christian Bale in Newsies actually does a pretty decent New York accent. Only, New York has a lot of accents. Bale doesn't so much not pick one as pick all of them. Most of the other actors don't pick any of them at all.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader. As Anakin Skywalker he sounds either Midwestern American (childhood) or upper-crust New England (adolescence). Once in the black armor, he sounds like a roboticized Scary Black Man (courtesy of James Earl Jones) speaking in a Mid-Atlantic accent. When Luke removes his mask at the end of Return of the Jedi, he inexplicably gains a British accent just before he dies.
  • Ernest Stavro Blofeld when he was played by Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice.
  • Nicolas Cage in Vampire's Kiss appears to affecting something between California surfer accent and that of an English gentleman (when it's not slipping). What it actually is meant to be is hotly contested. Cage explained that the accent is supposed to be a nonsensical affectation that Loew uses to seem cultured and to impress others.
  • Edna Mode from The Incredibles has a... German/Japanese accent, which forced Brad Bird to play the role himself, as no one else could do the accent properly.
  • The title character in Coffy uses a rather strange accent when posing as a prostitute.
  • The jury is still out as to what accent Jude Law was going for in I Heart Huckabees. It isn't his native British accent, it isn't an accent for someone who grew up in the midwestern United States like his character... the best guess is that it's a deliberate affectation from a self-loathing individual.
  • Kiefer Sutherland may have found out what happened to his girlfriend in the remake of The Vanishing, but no one has ever been to find out where the heck Jeff Bridges' character was supposed to be from. France? Belgium? Holland?
  • Peter Klaven in I Love You, Man. All of his accents have the same, vaguely leprechaunish quality, and other characters routinely call him out on it. Slappa da bass!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Davy Jones, played by Bill Nighy, has what is sort-of-recognisable as a Scottish accent, but given that he's punctuating it with various bizarre sputtering and plops and other squid noises, and that Bill Nighy has a fairly distinctive voice to begin with, it turns into this trope. The accent was originally supposed to be Dutch (he's the captain of the Flying Dutchman, after all), but Nighy refused to even attempt it.
  • Russell Crowe gives us a strange blend of Welsh, Irish and a bit of Scottish in the 2010 Robin Hood (2010 film). He's been known to stop interviews when asked about it.
  • Kate Beckinsale and her apparently Transylvanian accent in Van Helsing. Strangely we hear some American pronunciations in there when Beckinsale herself is British.
  • Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings adopts a weird sort of mid-Atlantic accent that sounds sort of like it wants to be British but can't quite make it -- which stands out, given that practically everybody in the movie speaks with one British Regional Accent or another.
  • Belizaire The Cajun (a 1986 low-budget film starring Armand Assante) has this problem for purely historical reasons. Most of the characters are Cajuns (Louisianans of French-Canadian descent) in 1850s Louisiana, but their accents evoke an unlikely mishmash of ethnicities from all over Europe and the Americas (one of the characters sounds almost Hispanic/Latino at one point, while Belizaire himself edges close to what sounds like a Scottish accent in one scene). This discrepancy can be attributed to two things: one, most North Americans have never heard an authentic Cajun accent and/or have a stereotyped idea of what it sounds like; and two, the Cajuns really were a multi-ethnic and even multi-racial people, despite primarily speaking French.
  • Peter MacNicol as Janosz Poha in Ghostbusters II provides the page quote. He's supposedly Hungarian, but his accent lurches all over Eastern Europe like a drunk in a Yugo. Since his name doesn't have any real country of origin, it's just a nonspecific wacky accent, which MacNicol developed by hanging out at the Romanian consulate in New York.
  • In Funny People, Leslie Mann's character attempts to imitate her husband's Australian accent and fails, confusing Ira.
  • In Maverick, Annabelle has this asked of her by the titular character.

 Maverick: I can't quite place your accent. Where in the South are you from?

Annabelle: Ever been to Mobile? That's where I'm from.

Maverick: Mobile, Alabama? Hell, I been there. I'll bet we know the same people. You start.

Annabelle: I've tried so hard to forget that place. I endured such personal tragedy there.

  • Jake Gyllenhall in Prince of Persia doesn't even sound Middle Eastern. His accent comes off as poorly-done British.
  • When auditioning for his part in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem attempted to downplay his Spanish accent, and ended up with a bizarre, mangled dialect that is thoroughly undefinable. The Coen Brothers liked this so much that they told him to keep doing it, as the accent heightened the unsettling otherworldliness of his character. He won an Oscar for his performance.
  • In the 1999 Disney Channel movie PUNKS, a young Jessica Alba played a streetwise tomboy with a Brooklyn accent. Except Alba's accent drifted all across the United States' eastern seaboard, and occasionally turned into what sounded like an Estuary accent.


Literature

  • Hunter in Neverwhere is described as having an accent like this, as point-of-view character Richard isn't familiar with the accents of the world Below.
  • In Cryptonomicon, Enoch Root has one hell of a weird accent in English; after some discussion of it among his squadmates, Bobby Shaftoe (who had met Enoch before and learned his (supposed) background) pretends to listen to it and declares:

 Bobby: Well, fellas, I would guess that this Enoch Root is the offspring of a long line of Dutch and possibly German missionaries in the South Sea Islands, interbred with Aussies. And furthermore, I would guess that—being as how he grew up in territories controlled by the British—that he carries a British passport and was drafted into their military when the war started and is now part of ANZAC.

Pvt. Daniels: Haw! If you got all of that right, I'll give you five bucks.

Bobby: Deal.

 ‘Ach,’ said Kreiner, ‘always ye haff mishaps. Again and again. Time after time.’

  • Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell from Good Omens is described as "unplaceable":

 It careered around Britain like a milk race. Here a mad Welsh drill sergeant, there a High Kirk elder who'd just seen someone doing something on a Sunday, somewhere between them a dour Daleland shepherd, or bitter Somerset miser. It didn't matter where the accent went; it didn't get any nicer.

  • During her brief visit to Hell, Honor Harrington encounters a group of prisoners who speak English in the oddest manner... their choice of words and grammar indicate that they speak it fluently, but something about how they are pronouncing is just maddeningly off for no evident reason. They are all developing speech impairments, due to brain damage caused by the planet's native flora and fauna being slightly toxic to humans, with the State Sec personnel making it a point not to give them enough rations to sustain themselves.
  • The Grand High Witch is implied to be Norwegian. She replaces her Ts with Zs and Ws with Vs. It doesn't in any way resemble a Norwegian accent, which is recognizable by more pronounced Rs and replacing Zs with Ss. Her accent resembles German more than anything else.
  • In Robots and Empire, the protagonists visit a planet presumed abandoned. Upon encountering a robotic overseer, they address it... only to find, to their dismay, that while these robots are "Three Laws"-Compliant, their definition of human only extends to those with the local accent (very distinct). Oh, and everything that looks like a human but doesn't speak like one must be destroyed on the spot.


Live Action TV

  • Antoine de Caunes of Eurotrash fame initially tried dampening down his very, very strong French accent (to the point that he was often suspected of not being French at all and putting the accent on for the sake of comedy) and using an English accent whilst presenting on British television. As he himself admits, the results were not pretty.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Craig Ferguson once commented that nobody in Scotland understood Scotty. "It was like an Arab had an epileptic seizure."
    • NOOKLEARRH. WESSELS. Interestingly, Anton Yelchin, the Russian-born but American-bred actor who played Chekhov in the 2009 Star Trek made a game attempt at approximating Chekov's accent, even though he apparently commented that it sounded like no Russian accent he had ever heard.
    • Mauve Shirt Transporter Chief Kyle had a kinda-English accent (which makes sense as the actor who played him, John Winston, is British), but it was "off" enough that a DC Comics bio had him born in Australia.
  • While Leonard Nimoy had no discernable accent as Spock, in his role on Mission Impossible as master of disguise Paris he had this brilliant moment.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Troi. Marina Sirtis said that she purposefully tried to make an alien accent since she was half-Human/half-Betazoid, and especially in the earlier seasons you can almost see her struggling to keep it up. The fact that none of the Betazoid characters used anything even slightly similar also drew attention to it. That accent was replaced by something closer to a British accent (which is her native accent) in later seasons, and then dropped altogether in movie.

    Originally, Denise Crosby was chosen after reading the part of Troi, the empath, and Sirtis read for Commie Land descendant and security-focused Tasha Yar (... yiiiikes). By the time season one began, they had accents that might have made sense if their roles hadn't been swapped. Troi's mother was cast as if this change hadn't happened at all.
    • This troper always assumed Troi was meant to be Greek, and kept expecting her to ask Captain Picard if he wanted to buy a kebab.
  • Friends: When Ross starts lecturing at NYU he is very nervous and when he begins to talk "this British accent just came out". "Yeah, not a very good one." In the same episode Monica does a Scottish accent to make fun of him and Rachel goes for Indian of all things.
    • Also in universe is pretty much any time Joey tries to put on an accent, His Southern Accent comes out as Jamaican.
    • Another episode has Phoebe and Monica having this reaction to one of their friends coming back from England with a new accent. Monica attempts an an awful impression of it ("Monica dah-ling it's U-mah-da cooling"). Chandler remarks "is that meant to be a British accent". Ironically when we see the friend (played by Jennifer Coolidge) her English accent is quite decent.
      • Well, sort of- some of the vowels are correct (for RP, anyway) and consistent. It's probably exactly right considering it's portrayed as irritatingly fake
  • Londo in Babylon 5. His aide, Vir, did not speak with the same accent, but the actor playing Lord Refa did decide to copy it, leading the series creator to explain that this was basically the "old money"/aristocratic Centauri accent.
    • Possibly adding to the confusion, J. Michael Straczynski originally didn't want Londo to have an accent at all, but Peter Jurasik (who played Londo) kept on using it anyway. Plus, Centauri Prime is an entire planet, so it would make sense that there would be more than one accent.
      • When pushed by his co-stars to identify exactly what accent it was, Jurasik was known to shrug and announce in an exaggerated version that it was "Eastern European". He claims that he'd lost a part once using this accent and figured that if he's an alien, he at least couldn't be accused of Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
    • Delenn might count too, but that's technically the actress' own Croatian accent.
    • The Centauri and Minbari in particular seem to have a selection of accents. Turhan Bey used his native Austrian accent when portraying the Centauri Emperor, lending some credence to the quasi-Eastern European accent affected by Jurasik as Londo. Theodore Bikel used his native Yiddish accent when playing a Minbari, Reiner Schone as Dukhat used his native German accent, and John Vickery affected a pronounced upper class British purr as Neroon.
      • There's also the Centauri maid from the framing scenes of "In the Beginning," who has a French accent. She's a major character in the Centauri Prime trilogy, where her accent is described as "Northern."
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Nightmare of Eden", the character Tryst has an utterly incredible accent, which the actor developed deliberately on the grounds that people on other planets in the future won't have the same accents as people on Earth in the present. It might have worked better if he hadn't been the only person in the story doing it. (And Tom Baker didn't keep visibly cracking up whenever Tryst spoke.)
    • For that matter, Peri's American accent is on occasions so atrocious that American viewers have had to Google to try to find out where she's meant to be from.
    • In the new-who episode "Day of the Moon" people were left trying to figure out where exactly the orphanage owner is meant to be from. It's apparently southern US.
    • Also invoked when Rose questioned the Ninth Doctor about his Oop North accent.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer gives us two English potentials Molly and Annabelle who are cockney and RP respectively, and seem to have taken personal lessons from Dick Van Dyke. Annabelle pronounces because as "bee-cawwse" and Molly replaces wise with "woiz".
    • Contrary to popular belief, Kendra's accent is not actually an example. According to Word of God it's a rural Jamaican accent and very region-specific so it's actually authentic even if viewers don't think so.
    • But nobody English has ever spoken with Drusilla's wildly bizarre Cockney-meets-Mummerset.
      • She is, well, crazy. And before she's crazy, she's pretty consistently upper-class.
      • She sounds like Harold Steptoe.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch has an episode with a supposedly British drummer (well he says he was born in London) whom Morgan thinks talks cute.
    • One of the last episodes features an 'Australian' sports team with what appears to be a fading cockney accent with Aussie mannerisms.
  • CSI had an ep with a suspect supposedly from South Africa, but fans familiar with the country's accent found it laughable.
    • One of the recurring characters, Sofia Curtis, was played by an English actress who tried to shoot for a generic, American accent. It... didn't quite work out that well.
    • And, just one word for CSI New York: Peyton. The actress was British, but the accent apparently still bad. (Jane Parsons did it better)
  • It started on Buffy but the less said about Angel's 'Irish' accent, the better.
    • With that said, one time Buffy tries an English accent, that makes Angel sound like a born and bred Belfastian in comparison. (Which would be fine... if his character was meant to be from Ulster at all.)
  • Alias Season 3 featured Agent Vaughan's new wife, Lauren, who was supposed to be British. Melissa George was rather lacking in ability in that department...
    • ...the poor accent was later given a plot based explanation, but it seems unlikely that it was specified as a poor English accent in the original script.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? is infamous for this; any time the players have to portray a nationality, there's maybe a 10% chance at best that the accent will even remotely resemble what it's supposed to be. Especially if it's Colin or Ryan attempting the accent. Its generally lampshaded to no end.
    • Which usually involves Ryan claiming the accent is "Dutch".
    • One sketch had Ryan's character blaming his roaming accent on moving a lot as a child.
  • The Saturday Night Live "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" - Dan Ackroyd puts on a plausible Eastern European accent, but Steve Martin's is just...what?!? Compounded massively when they speak in faux-Czech to each other.
    • This is pretty common on SNL, actually - some cast members are very, very good at accents, while others... are not. A couple examples of the latter camp include Jason Sudeikis as Richard Dawson in a Family Feud sketch, Seth Meyers as Prince Charles, and any time Christopher Walken has hosted.
  • The accent used by the second version of Kryten on Red Dwarf has been described as a cross between American and Scottish. It was apparently supposed to be Canadian when he started out. It is also worth noting that Kryten keeps three spare heads in a locker in case of emergencies. Two speak his unique North American accent, but the third is different - blunter and coarser than the rest, it talks pure Yorkshire, notes its circuit boards are shot to buggery, and comes over like Geoffrey Boycott on a good day.
    • Somewhat justified in that this accent was shown to be part of Kryten's "corrupted" personality, and so may not supposed to be any specific accent we're familiar with. When he got temporarily memory-wiped in season eight his accent reverted back to an upper-class British accent.
  • That 70s Show: Wilmer Valderrama has said that he purposely created an accent that couldn't be identified (think a mixture of "40 percent Cuban" and "60 percent homosexual"), and his lack of national origin is a running joke on the show.
    • Lampshaded in an episode in which the adults try to imagine what the kids say when they are not around, and they have Fez himself not knowing what country he's from.
      • Fez's friend from the other side of island has a British accent which makes everything more confusing
  • Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
  • Examples of this trope pop up in many of the movies mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Catalina Caper - "Oh, what are you, Creepy Girl?...are you French, or Italian, or one of those swarthy Gypsy types, heh heh?" In point of fact, Tom's wrong on all counts. The character of Katrina "Creepy Girl" Corelli was in fact played by Ulla Strömstedt, a Swede.
    • Natalie, the female protagonist from Werewolf, and several other characters from that film to varying degrees.
  • SCTV's Andrea Martin had two prominent characters built around this trope. Perini Scleroso, the station's cleaning woman, occasional on-air "talent," and recipient of the coveted People's Global Golden Choice Award for "Best Foreign Personality," has both a thin grasp of the English language and a bizarre, unplaceable accent. Mojo, the maid on "The Days of the Week," had a better command of English, but a different bizarre, unplaceable accent.
  • Cote de Pablo -- Chilean born and Miami raised -- plays an Israeli on NCIS, only her accent is still South American and she mangles whatever Hebrew they give her.
  • Several of the accents in Leverage, but it's most glaring in the season three finale, San Lorenzo. Everybody had a vaguely European-sounding accent. Not one person had the same accent as any other person. Also doubles as Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
    • In-universe, this is Sophie's reaction to the attempts of the other character's to do her accent in "The Rashomon Job".
  • Josh Thomas from Talkin Bout Your Generation has a bizarre indecipherable accent, despite being born and raised in Australia. Even host Shaun Micallef accidentally slipped into a speech pattern more characteristic of Josh at one point in the show.
    • His accent sounds kind of British.
  • Claudia Black elicits this reaction quite often. However, most of the time she is using her natural mingled Australian and British accent at the request of the director. This trope is completely justified when she plays an American, though.
  • Samuel Sullivan in Heroes pretty much goes on a tour of every American and British regional accent in practically every sentence. Robert Knepper explained that it was meant to reflect how much he'd traveled.
  • And most mystifying to British ears, the character of Daphne Moon from Frasier, who speaks a very singular "Manchester" accent. This slips and slides across the north Cheshire plain and every so often touches ground in Sale and Stockport (south-west Manchester area) but is best thought of as a sort of generic north-western accent with hints of everywhere from Widnes and Runcorn right accross to Glossop and Leek. The directors of Frasier really gave up when casting Daphne's "Mancunian" family: her parents are Dick Van Dyke cockney, her brothers are respectively Glaswegian, Irish, Australian, cockney and Scottish...
  • Shake It Up has Gunther and Tinka, who appear to speak with different accents from "the old country." (Gunther's is more German/Austrian; Tinka's is more Eastern European).
  • Project Runway Season 9 had Olivier Green, whose accent baffled fellow contestants and the audience. It was so all over the place that people began to speculate he was faking it, though it seemed to fluctuate based on his mood.
  • Let's not forget that Americans speak with a distinct accent that sometimes has to be put upon by actors. Hugh Laurie does a wonderful American accent, but it would be hard to pin down exactly where in United States Dr. House is from. In the same vein, Mc Nulty from The Wire does not sound like someone who is from Baltimore, or really anywhere in the U.S.
  • Shae from Game of Thrones, who is equally mystifying to Tyrion in-universe. She describes her own accent only as "foreign." Her accent is German. Resolved in Season Two, when Cersei pegs her accent as Lorathi. It helps that Jaqen H'gar, the only other Lorathi character, also uses a German accent.


Music

  • What the hell of an accent was Lena (winner of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, actually from Germany) using? American? Cockney? Australian? Possibly related to the standard English curriculum in German schools where half of the fourth year of study is about Australia.
  • Fans were indeed asking the trope question when Eminem came in full force with his trademark accent for his album Relapse. YMMV on whether it took away from the album or not, but later in his succeeding albums Eminem implies he sort of went overboard with it.
  • For a while, after she married Guy Ritchie, Madonna seemed to adopt some bizarre, half-assed attempt at a British accent, most notably in the intro to "What It Feels Like For a Girl".
  • During the first year after Lady Gaga released her first album, "The Fame," she began to use a weird off-kilter British accent, which even her fans commented on. She later admitted it had to do with her anxiety and dealing with her newfound fame, dropping the accent entirely.


Radio

  • Invoked in an episode of I'm Sorry Ill Read That Again. David Hatch complains that he only ever gets to do the narration and never gets any interesting parts. Bill responds by announcing the arrival of "an out-of-work rabbi from Cairo, born of Lithuanian parents, raised in Germany, learned English from an Irishman in Edinburgh, educated in Bangkok, who will be played by -- David Hatch!" David stammers for a bit, and the resulting accent can only be described as this trope.

 David: Heyop! Any mick makes a wrong move and goodness gracious me, I shall shoot you! That goes for you too, fräulein-babydoll!

Cleese: What do you mean by this?!

David: I wish I knew.


Stand Up Comedy

  • Eddie Izzard lampshades this a couple of times; namely, in his impressions of a Bond villain and a push-me-pull-you carpet sweeper. The Bond villain's accent is explained as being the result of his losing the instructions to a synthetic voice box, which is consequently stuck in shop demonstration mode.
  • Josh Thomas. He was born and raised in Australia, and yet has an inexplicable, vaguely-English accent.
  • Danny Bhoy has a strong Scottish accent. The only other one he can do even vaguely is French (and it's a bit of a stretch). He Lampshades this every time he tries to fake another accent in his act.


Theatre

  • At one point in The Complete History of America (abridged), one of the actors is impersonating a Vietnamese girl, and another observes that he has "no idea how to do a Vietnamese accent."
  • One of many running gags in the popular summer stock farce A Bedfull of Foreigners is the mystery accent of Karak, the valet. The script calls for a non-specific Slavic accent, but Karak himself claims to be from Bulgaria, Hungary, and even Mexico.


Video Games

  • Soul Calibur seriously where in Britain is Ivy meant to be from?
  • Iris in Mega Man X 4. The English language voice actress, Michelle Gazepis, is Australian, but seems to be failing to put on another accent.
  • Deus Ex Invisible War: The pilot Sid is supposed to be English, which surprises English people.
    • Luminon Saman also veers all over the Atlantic without once touching land.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: A random marine in the first level who gets in your way will say; "Sir, The Captain wants you on the bridge ASAP. Better follow me!", in an accent that sounds remarkably Australianish.
  • Brother-Captain Indrick Boreale from Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War has... well, whatever planet it comes from, players hope it's been destroyed. "SPESS MAHREENS" indeed.
    • The Chaos Cultists had what seems to be a Peter Lorre impression combined with Cornholio. The accent is one of the most hilariously infamous things of the game, eventually evolving into the character "Cultist-chan". Best seen here in the Chaos Stronghold intro of Soulstorm.
  • Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid is apparently just supposed to sound generically Eastern-European (even though she identifies herself as hailing from Kurdistan)... but The Last Days of Foxhound massively mocked her accent as being 'all over the place', with even the otherwise-perfect Master of Disguise, Decoy Octopus, entirely failing to sound like her.
    • Naomi sounds posh-English with an American twang on her 'r' sounds, even though her character is Rhodesian and raised in America. The best guess is that it's the character's deliberate affectation. In The Twin Snakes and Metal Gear Solid 4 her accent is almost completely gone, although she still has a few English-like affectations.
  • The merchant in Resident Evil 4 is supposed to have a Scottish accent, apparently. Most of the players interpreted it as "Cockney", or simply "pirate".
    • Why it's supposed to sound Scottish when we're in Not-Quite-Spain is unclear.
  • Katamari Damacy: The King of All Cosmos -- Camp Gay or Irish brogue? Bonus points for pulling this effect off in Japanese. Vocals start at 1:55.
  • Wakka from Final Fantasy X. No one has any clue what it's supposed to sound like other than "vaguely islander". This isn't Earth we're talking about, though, so...
    • Not that anybody else from his island has that same accent.
  • Fran from Final Fantasy XII. Again, though, not Earth (though Ivalice's state of reality is so screwed up - thank you, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - it's hard to be sure...).
    • Her voice actress apparently speaks several languages, so it could be that she's just produced some sort of linguistic Eldritch Abomination.
    • It could be an attempt to create a suitable accent for the bizarre monstrosity that seems to be the Viera's native tongue. Mjrn, anyone?
      • That, at least, has roots in real languages. It's pronounced "mee-urn"; the J has a Y sound. Common in Scandanavia.
      • Also, the Bhujerban accent (Marquis Ondore's in particular) sounds like some weird Welsh/Hindi hybrid.
  • Jetfire in Transformers: War for Cybertron has either an Australian or some kind of British accent. Which one it most sounds like can change every other line.
    • According to Troy Baker, Jetfire's VA, to build Jetfire's accent they started with a "standard" English accent (presumably Received Pronunciation) and then intentionally tweaked it to sound less "posh," without specifically aiming for any other kind of British accent. That's why it's hard to tell whether his accent is English, Scottish, Australian or something in between -- because it isn't really any of those.
  • Parodied in the fourth episode Sam and Max's third season, where attempting to use Max's ventriloquism power on Grandpa Stinky will result in Max producing an accent that Sam can only describe as "Irish Pirate".
  • Dynaheir from Baldur's Gate is supposedly a Lzherusskie like her bodyguard Minsc. Her accent can charitably be described as "foreign" and defies most other adjectives.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Donovan Hock, the Big Bad from Kasumi's loyalty mission has an accent some fans find hard to place. It is actually an Afrikaans accent.
    • Which doesn't excuse the fact that he also voices the Scottish engineer and the typically quasi-Eastern European quarian Veetor. The latter can be excused because it's not a real accent, but the Scottish is really rather poor.
    • Well, of course it is - he's a reference to Scotty, who himself had a gratuitous fake accent.
    • Nobody seems to know where the hell Udina is from.
  • So...Lucia of Devil May Cry 2. Anyone got a guess? She seems to have the same voice coach as Sniper Wolf, but hits more of a Italian-Kurdish mix...
  • Carrying on the Final Fantasy series' proud tradition of this trope is Vanille in Final Fantasy XIII. The actress is Australian, but she seems to be affecting... some other kind of accent, with the result that the American actress playing Fang sounds more Australian than she does.
  • Warcraft 3 has trolls, which are either Jamaican or an intential invocation of this trope.
    • "Whadaya mean, what kinda accent is dis? It's a troll accent! I swear, ja makin' me crazy."
      • World of Warcraft adds the draenei, who speak with some sort of Slavic accent, though the fanbase is in no agreement on which one.
    • Tyrande's 'new' accent as of 4.3. It's the same actress, but for some reason she now sounds closer to Trolls than any other Night Elves.
  • Virgil's accent in Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. Judging by the other voice-acted characters, it's meant to be British.
  • Several if not all of Caesar's legion in Fallout: New Vegas. Its not a standard accent for an English speaker.
  • The Oracle in Fahrenheit (2005 video game) / Fahrenheit (2005 video game) is can be initially hard to place. The first time the player hears him speak, he is unseen, and just sat down with a stranger in a diner and started discussing Shakespeare in a measured, gravelly voice.
  • No More Heroes: the Job Board guy appears to have an accent that is not of Earth. It's possible that this is from having a Japanese actor read English lines phonetically (see the Takashi Miike cameo in the sequel).
    • There's also Alice, the 2nd ranked assassin from the sequal, who has an accent that sounds to be either German or Russian, but it's a bit hard to tell.
  • Silent Hill 3 has Claudia Wolfe, whose accent is usually either interpreted as "New England", or "a really horrible attempt at sounding vaguely British".
    • Later, Heather herself , for no particular reason, develops a similarly bizarre faux-British accent when trying to trick Claudia into thinking that Alessa is speaking through her.
  • MacMillan of Modern Warfare's accent is deinitely Scottish, but it's a mix of all of Scotland's dialects, as well as some Yorkshire and Ulster Irish thrown in.
  • Steroid from Jagged Alliance 2. He's supposed to be Polish, but sounds like a constipated, mentally challenged parody of Arnie instead.
  • The G-man from Half-Life. He sounds vaguely North American, with a light vaguely-British accent, with the whole mess wrapped up in the Uncanny Valley like he'd read about proper inflection in Earthling conversation but never quite got it. The overall effect comes of as an attempt at "generic human".
  • Razer's accent in Jak X is all over the place, sounding like either German or French, depending on who you ask. Others recognize Austrian or even Russian in it.
  • Team Fortress 2: Invoked this trope for comedy, as all of the characters' "accents" are as how a typical American in The Sixties might have perceived it; the Spy's accent is the hardest to pin down, having mixed French, Italian, and Spanish pronunciations and words in his vocabulary.


Web Original

  • Artemis The Alcoholic moon-cat in Sailor Moon Abridged is allegedly Australian, but his drunken ramblings are so slurred and near-incomprehensible that Australian tropers have expressed surprise when learning what accent he was going for. Others think he sounds Scottish.
  • Zelda of ASCZ's Horrorshow, despite being an Australian born in the Deep South, has an accent that sounds like excessively posh British mixed with an odd blend of California and New York.
  • Check the comments for any Let's Play or Retsupurae video featuring Psychedelic Eyeball and you'll see a handful of guesses at the nature of his accent. For the record, he's French-Canadian.
    • In their Wrongpurae of DarkSeed 2, the duo speculate this about Mrs. Ramirez's accent, settling on a mix of Irish and Swedish. In fact, the one certainty about it is that it's definitely not Hispanic, contrary to what her name would suggest.

 slowbeef: I think your accent is European Mish-Mash, ma'am!

    • Their Wrongpurae of The Town With No Name had a character with a completely indistinguishable accent, prompting this line:

 slowbeef: Are you Cajun, or stupid?

 Raphael: Uh, boss, are you saying "duel" or "do"?

Dartz: DUUUUUUEH!

  • A common occurrence in the videos of Tobuscus. During a playthrough of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, he once attempted to imitate Ezio's Italian accent, only to end up with something vaguely Slavic.


Western Animation

  • For the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Paul Kandel gave Clopin an accent somewhat French, somewhat Eastern European, and somewhat uncategorizable. This was intentional on Kandel's part as coming from Clopin's nomadic past.
  • In-universe example during Total Drama Action: during the spy challenge, Chris adopts an accent that characters guess could be anything from Russian to Jamaican.
  • The episode of Rocko's Modern Life where Mr. Bighead dreamt he was a pirate when he sleepwalks.

 Mr. Bighead: (to Heffer) Egad!, what sort of accent is that?

  • Oblina from Aaahh Real Monsters. It's a vague "classy" accent that's actually an exaggerated, yet obvious, Bette Davis impression.
  • King Julien from the Madagascar films and spinoff TV series The Penguins of Madagascar. He's voiced by Englishman Sacha Baron Cohen in the movies, resulting in a voice that sounds like a cross between Borat and some vaguely African accent (Danny Jacobs, his replacement in the TV series, maintains almost exactly the same voice). His repeated usage of malapropisms, strange syntax and Buffy-Speak (e.g., "Ah, but I was expecting you to be expecting that, so we switcheroo-ed the crates on the pier before the fish got loading on to the truck.") only contorts the accent even further.
    • Mort also slips in and out of some strange, unidentifiable accent.
  • Cosmos from Transformers Generation 1 had a blend of Spanish and Eastern European accent. More or less, his accent sounds really weird (but coincidentally, very similar to Peter Lorre).
  • Where the hell is Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory supposed to be from? It sounds like an attempt to do a generic European mad-scientist voice, but the rest of his family seem to speak fairly generic American English.
    • Lampshaded in one episode where a bully who "hates kids with funny accents!" attacks Dexter and a group of other students... in which Dexter is the only one without an obvious accent source.
    • One of the early Cartoon Network ads for the show called it an "eastern European" accent.
    • When Dexter meets future versions of himself in the Made for TV Movie, they all have a similar accent, but the Future Badass has a Schwarzenegger-like Austrian accent.
    • Made even more blatant in the Norwegian dub, when Dexter inexplicably throws in German phonetics and grammar that clash with the Norwegian language.
  • Mina on Jelly Jamm. Her case is very similar to Dexter's.
  • The Mayor's accent in Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost is a bizarre combination of several New England accents
  • The twins on Superjail seem to have an accent that sounds vaguely "European" but doesn't seem to come from any country. Justified once it's revealed they're actually aliens.
  • The chef who chases Uncle Waldo out of his restaurant during his introductory scene in The Aristocats either has a French or an Italian accent.
  • Is Pig from Almost Naked Animals French or Russian?
  • An episode of Sabrina the Animated Series has Sabrina and Salem travelling back to the Dark Ages and meeting characters from King Arthur mythology played by counterparts of her friends. Except for Pi, who doesn't even bother, all of them have rather...unique...English accents.
  • Examples from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rarity's accent could be considered "New England", or just "vaguely upper-crust." The accent could quite possibly be an affectation of the character herself: she lives in the small provincial town of Ponyville, and neither her parents (seen in "Sisterhooves Social") nor her little sister Sweetie Belle speak with any trace of this accent.
      • It's worth noting that Sweetie Belle is the only one in her family WITHOUT an exaggerated accent: Rarity's father is somewhere between Midwest and Canadian, while her mother's accent suggests either New Jersey or New York.
    • Photo Finish from "Green Isn't Your Color" has a vaguely Germanic accent, presumably because her voice actress was doing a vocal caricature of Anna Wintour. (Although most of the younger kids watching would most likely compare her to Edna Mode.)
    • Zecora's accent seems to be some sort of vague "generic African accent"... crossed with "vague Caribbean islander accent".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Snake (the Tattooed Crook who's always trying to rob the Kwik-E-Mart) speaks in a weird cross between Valspeak and Cockney, making him sound kinda like the child of British parents who was raised in Southern California (and has a Noblewoman's Laugh that somehow manages to evoke both regions!).
      • Then again, maybe that's just Snake's natural accent. British English and California English tend to have similar vowel sounds, such as the letter u being pronounced "ew" (whereas it tends to be "oo" in much of the eastern United States). It happens to be true that many English immigrants to America in the mid-19th century settled in Utah (then known as Deseret) and converted to Mormonism, and a generation or so after that many of those Mormons made their way to Los Angeles - so there's that.
    • Moe the Bartender speaks in a generalized "crotchety old man" accent that could represent many different American regions or ethnicities. Over the course of the series, it's been hinted that he might be of Italian, Arab, Dutch, or Russian descent (though whether this is Multiple Choice Past or Negative Continuity is impossible to say).
    • Both characters, by the way, are voiced by Hank Azaria, a native New Yorker whose parents were Greek Jews of Spanish descent.
  • Done intentionally on Family Guy with the Two Foreign Guys Who Have Been Living in the U.S. Almost Long Enough to Sound American.

 "Oh man, what a good bunch of partying at that discothèque. They played one of my audience requests."

"Way awesome! I myself drank like five liters of beer. Any more and I would have ended up in hospital man."

"Oh you said it friend, but I wanted to stay, because I almost had sex on this girl."

"Oh yeah, but it was so expensive. Each drink was like six dollars forty!"

  • Tim the Bear on The Cleveland Show voiced by Seth MacFarlane. Seth said he based it on his dad's bad impression of the "Wild and Crazy Guys" foreigner characters from SNL.
  • Bugs Bunny talks in a mixture of Bronx and Brooklyn accents (Mel Blanc also said his inspiration was Frank McHugh, who spoke in a New York Irish accent).
  • Sandi on Daria's accent might be best be described as a bad imitation of a French one, except the character had no connection to France. It's not clear what it was supposed to be, besides vaguely upper class.
  • Brak from the 1960's Space Ghost series spoke in a deep voice with a sinister vague accent that sounded like a mix between different Asian dialects (most notably Chinese with a hint of Japanese-Vietnamese to it) and a slight British tone to it.


Real Life

  • The accents of some languages are unknown enough to appear this way, especially if there are phonetic features not found in English such as vowel harmony (you can pronounce a lot of vowels but not in the same word).
  • Move somewhere with a drastically different accent from your birthplace. Live there for a year. Travel to a third location and watch most people be completely baffled.
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