The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first recorded in 1951 for the movie Distant Drums. It has been featured in over 150 movies since. Alongside a certain recording of the cry of the red-tailed hawk, the "Universal Telephone Ring" and "Castle Thunder," it is probably the most well-known cinematic sound cliché. It is believed to have been provided by actor/singer Sheb Wooley.

The Wilhelm's revival came from Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, who tracked down the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled "Man being eaten by alligator"). He named it after Wilhelm, a minor character who emitted the scream in the 1953 movie The Charge at Feather River. Its use in Star Wars was the beginning of something of an in-joke amongst some sound designers of the film industry, especially at Skywalker Sound.

Some people, once aware of it, recognize it immediately. (The Tarzan yell, heard in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, is also heard in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, during the establishing shot on Kashyyyk. The pitch of it seems to have been altered slightly.)

In his endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare, Jason Fry hinted that the Wilhelm scream was uttered in the holodrama The Charge at Feather Nebula.[1]

On February 22, 2018, sound editor Matthew Wood revealed that it has been decided by Lucasfilm to not use the Wilhelm scream anymore following the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi and instead replace it with a new stock sound effect.[2]

Uses in Star WarsEdit

Wilhelm comic

WikiWorld comic depicting the history of the Wilhelm Scream

(stormtrooper shot by Luke Skywalker  prior to the chasm swing aboard the Death Star, Takes 3 and 4 in quick succession) (this was the scream's debut in the Star Wars franchise)

See alsoEdit

Wilhalm Skrim

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit

In other languages
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+