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Cacofonixsing 1709.jpg
"Ouch, that was painful. So very, very lame."

Something really bad, such as horribly off-tune singing or bad poetry, being almost weaponized, or at least being traumatizing. The horribleness of it can range from giving nightmares, to blowing up cities.

Can take the form of a Brown Note, but there can be other effects than that trope. Sometimes this can be invoked with using the horrible thing as Cool and Unusual Punishment.

Can overlap with Anything But That, Faux Horrific, Dreadful Musician and/or a humorous version of Even Evil Has Standards.

In Real Life, bad works don't really hurt people. But it's fairly common to at least describe a very bad movie as being "painful to watch", or to say that it "hurts to read" a bad book. In Japanese, one word for "ugly" is migurushii (見苦しい), literally "painful to look at".

Compare/Contrast Awesomeness Is Volatile.

Examples of Suckiness Is Painful include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series Marik being forced to watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua was so horrible it drove him to evil.
  • Blink and you'll miss it, but in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, Itoshki-sensei's suicide kit, filled with poisons, pills and all manner of lethalities, also contains an Enya CD (though it might also just be relaxing suicide mood-music).
  • In Clannad Kotomi Ichinose specializes in this trope with her violin of doom.
And her weapon is the violin it only takes 0.2 before sound waves come out from the moment she takes position. The number of people she's felled is countless.
Tomoya to students, after interrupting Kotomi's introduction.


  • Pictured above: in Asterix, Cacofonix's music is so bad, it's the only thing that can teach the meaning of fear to the Normans. In fact short exposure to it mentally scars them. It also summons thunderstorms and drives the wildlife away.


  • The song "Puberty Love" in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is so bad, it defeats the tomatoes. Not that they were weak against music, but that this song was so awful, that even the sheet music had this effect.
  • A similar trick involving Slim Whitman works on the invading Martians of Mars Attacks (Film).
  • In the movie Top Secret, after the Nazis have been psychologically and physically torturing Nick Rivers only for it not to break him...

 "Do you want me to break out the LeRoy Neiman paintings?"

"No. We cannot risk violating the Geneva Convention."



  • Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy: Vogon poetry, to the point that victims are restrained before readings, and the poetry of the Azgoths of Kria.
  • Similarly, the Discworld's Nac Mac Feegle have Gonnagles, bards whose poetry is so bad that it's used on the battlefield.
    • It's not necessarily that they're bad poets. It's just that with Feegles, if you can't get drunk on it or weaponize it, they don't have a lot of use for it.

Live Action TV

  • The "plot" of Mystery Science Theater 3000 involves a Mad Scientist attempting to find a movie so bad it could be weaponized.
    • And they've come close a few times. Monster a Go-Go! is generally agreed to be one of, if not the worst movie ever featured on the show. Manos: The Hands of Fate was so god-awful that Dr. Forrester and Frank were actually apologizing to Joel for making him watch it. And Invasion of the Neptune Men was such an ordeal that Mike and the 'bots had to take turns stepping out of the theater for a few moments, and were only cheered up afterward by a surprise visit from Krankor.
    • Once Pearl took over, she used Hobgoblins as a punishment - mentioning "the movie" made Bobo scream, she kept it in the Ark of the Covenant, the 'Bots took turns trying to flee during the opening credits, and eventually they put up cardboard cutouts and tried to sneak away.
  • A story arc in Kamen Rider Double features a street musician whose singing (a rock-rap fusion he calls "spilk") is so horrible it kills birds in mid-flight and causes an earthquake. The conflict comes from his winning an American Idol-style TV show despite his competition including actually competent singers (as well as members of AKB48 in Real Life), who hire the detective protagonist because they're sure the guy's cheating.

Video Games


 Sasha: Say something hideous and horrible jumps out at you, something so disgusting that it simply must die.

[He pushes a button; a tiffany lamp appears.]

Sasha: Ach! So... tacky... can't... look... directly at it...

    • Sasha has kind of a history with the things, so we might actually be looking at a reasonable justification this time...

Web Comics

Web Original


  What's the best way to end a shitty movie? With a shitty ending. One so bad that it leaves me scarred for life.


Western Animation


 Calculon: That was so terrible, I think you gave me cancer!