ByTom Perkins, writer at
If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.
Tom Perkins

Now before we dive in let's get one thing straight, the "Wilhelm scream" does not come from the German Emperor, Wilhelm II.

Now that that is out of the way, let's get started! If you've seen a lot of movies, you might have started to notice a particular scream every time someone is falling from a great height or when something drastic happens - like someone getting shot, this scream has been featured in over 300 movies since its creation.

Here's an example to refresh your memories:

Know what I'm talking about now? Yes? No? Well, keep reading anyway...

In all honesty, I thought this scream originated from Star Wars as that is the first place I had ever heard it, but in fact, this cinematic cliche originated from the film Distant Drums (1951) where a man is taken underwater by an alligator.

After destroying a Seminole fort, American soldiers and their rescued companions must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety

The scream is named after "Private Wilhlem," a character in another film called The Charge at Feather River (1953) where he is shot with an arrow by an Indian. The sound has been featured in many big franchises like:

  • Star Wars
  • Indiana Jones
  • The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit
  • Transformers
  • Toy Story

Research has been put into place to find out who actually recorded the scream and it is believed that Sheb Wooley is most likely to have been the voice actor who originally recorded the noise. This was supported by Wooley's widow, Linda Dotson in 2005.

He always used to joke about how he was so great about screaming and dying in films.

Check out this awesome compilation of the scream, dating back from 1951:


What do you think about the Wilhelm Scream?


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