Created By: TBTabby on January 21, 2012

The Speechless Speaks

The character who never speaks...just spoke

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There are characters who are well known for being unable, or unwilling, to speak. Then, at some crucial point in the story, they say something that needs to be said. This usually occurs at a climax, where what is said is something vital to the plot. Not to me confused with Suddenly Voiced, in which they were only mute due to the medium, or You Can Talk?, where it's something that shouldn't be able to talk.

Examples include:
  • The Simpsons episode "Stark Raving Dad" has Homer committed to a mental hospital, where he meets Chief, a Native American inmate who never speaks...until Homer says "hello" to him.
    "It was about time somebody reached out."
  • The Poopsmith from Homestar Runner cartoon had two unofficial moments before the real one:
    • In "different town," one of Strong Bad's wishes to make the town different is making him speak.
    • In "senior prom," He's the lead singer in "All The King's Men," a band made up of the King of Town's servants. But the only sings "oh yeah" at the very end, when nobody is looking.
    • Finally, in "email thunder," he sings for real in honor of Strong Bad's 200th email, complete with John Linnell providing the voice.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Enter the Outsiders," Katana says nothing until Wildcat has a heart attack, at which point she tells everyone how to treat it. In "Inside the Outsiders," it's revealed that she doesn't like to speak because speaking at the wrong moment led to her master's death.
  • In the story mode in Chocobo Racing, the Black Magician never speaks until all the Magicite shards are collected, at which point he starts speaking Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie has the title characters speaking when Pugsy asks them their names. Both of them are surprised that the other one can talk. According to Jerry, they never spoke before because they never had anything to say.
  • The Super Hero Squad Show has one for HERBIE: when he and Falcon are left to guard the Baxter Building, he doesn't say anything before telling Falcon which button to press.
    Falcon: How come you never talked before?!
    Herbie: Up to now, you were doin' okay.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • January 21, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • January 21, 2012
    Bisected8
    ^ I think there's a few examples in this that don't fit that there (the Tom and Jerry one, for instance).
  • January 21, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Would it also count that a character has a psychological condition is overcome, like in Scrooged?
  • January 21, 2012
    Duncan
    Silent Bob, of course.
  • January 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Harpo Marx was asked to yell "MURDER!" in At the Circus but declined. He felt it would ruin his character. But referenced in his autobiography, Harpo Speaks!
    • The Benny Hill Show: In the long sketch "The Bionic Baby" (who is the offspring of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman) his parents are concerned because he's six years old and can't talk. They give him his bottle and he spits it out. "This stuff is terrible!" Parents are shocked. "You can talk!" "Of course I can talk." "Why didn't you ever say anything before?" "Up until now the food was OK."
    • In the Land Of Oz all animals can talk. But Toto, Dorothy's dog from back in Kansas, doesn't. But as shown in Tik-Tok of Oz it turns out he can talk, he just prefers not to.
  • January 21, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Isn't this Suddenly Voiced?
  • January 21, 2012
    Hedgi
    Spike, from the Land Before Time, speaks a grand total of two words( I believe) In the fourth movie, he calls for his foster sister, Ducky, as she is half-conscious- thus saving her life. Later on in the sequels, He calls for his "Mama" as he falls through the ice.
  • January 21, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Silent Movie: Marcel Marceau, the famous French mime, utters the only dialogue ("Non!") when he rejects Mel Brooks' casting offer over the phone.
  • January 21, 2012
    LeeM
    ^^The description for Suddenly Voiced reads: "A character who was previously The Voiceless now talks much more frequently and is, more or less, given a permanent tone of voice." That's not the same as this trope, which as I understand it is about characters who've seldom/never spoken only speaking when they have something really important to say.
  • January 21, 2012
    chicagomel
    Clarabelle the Clown in Howdy Doody. He spoke only on the last episode, where he said "Goodbye,kids".
  • January 21, 2012
    LeeM
    • Comic Books: Strongbow in Elf Quest usually only communicates telepathically. The only times he ever speaks aloud are a) when he has to talk to elves that haven't learned telepathy and b) at times of deep emotion.
    • Western Animation: IIRC in the original run of Pink Panther cartoons the title character only ever spoke one line of dialogue ("Why can't humans be more like animals?")
    • Film: In Benath The Planet Of The Apes it's genuinely startling when the seemingly mute wild human girl Nova speaks her first and last word - "Taylor!" It also proves that the wild humans could be taught to speak, if only the world didn't get blown up first.
  • January 21, 2012
    vynsane
    I think this is basically a redo of The Silent Bob
  • January 21, 2012
    Prfnoff
    • In PDQ Bach's The Abduction of Figaro, Figaro only has one line. It comes in the recitative where Captain Kadd says, "I'm taking this ship to Cuba," and several other characters, including Figaro, reply with a dumbfounded "Cuba?"
    • The Miracle Worker has its dramatic climax when Helen Keller says something that sounds like "water."
  • January 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Doesn't Nova have a Big No in the original Planet Of The Apes film?
  • January 21, 2012
    chicagomel
    ^^^Not that I can recall.
  • January 22, 2012
    krazyglue
    Maggie from The Simpsons immediately springs to mind. In the episode "Lisa's First Word," they are trying to get Maggie to say her first word and reminiscing about Lisa's first word. At the end of the episode Homer puts Maggie to bed and tells her he hopes she never says anything (since kids talk back). After he leaves the room she pulls out her pacifier and says, "Daddy," but we're the only ones who hear it.
  • January 22, 2012
    ThreeferFAQMinorityChick
    In Cut Callie remains mute before one Individual Therapy session where she speaks for the first time in quite a while. But she doesn't speak in front of anyone besides her therapist before one session of Group Therapy when they're discussing Becca, who has been discovered to be continuing to starve herself and Callie verbally blames herself.
  • January 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Hmm...perhaps I was thinking of the book.
  • January 22, 2012
    Eomega123
    Avatar The Last Airbender: Longshot the archer only speaks during his final appearance, when he tells Team Avatar to escape while he and Smellerbee defend the dying Jet.
  • January 22, 2012
    ForWashuu
    Arnoul from "Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maō" ("Demon King Daimao") says nothing but "Guga" until the very last episode, when she comments on the student counsel's cowardice. Also, Grog from the comic strip "B.C." never said anything but "Grog" until a later strip when he speaks. When another character asks why he never spoke before, he replies that he'd never gotten that ticked off before.
  • January 22, 2012
    DarkConfidant
    Not sure if it counts, but:

    In Chrono Trigger, Crono proceeds through the entire game without saying a word. However, in one ending, he gets irritated with Lucca and Marle and chastises them. Both are stunned to actually hear him say something.
  • January 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Newhart, the Distant Finale Larry, Darryl and Darryl come to visit with their wives. (In the past, Larry was the ony one that talked.) Their wives are going on and on and on...the Darryls both simultaneously yell "QUIET!"
    Bob: Your brothers can speak! Why didn't they say anything up until now?
    Larry: I guess they've never been this PO'ed before.
  • January 23, 2012
    DhanaRagnarok
    In Needless, when Kuchinashi finally subverts her The Speechless status, everyone is so amazed they forget to hold their breath. (She fight using perfumes)
  • January 23, 2012
    Speedball
    Currently we have this trope, but its tile is "Silent Bob." I think I like this title better, though.
  • January 23, 2012
    Koveras
    • Cute Mute Lirio from El Cazador De La Bruja suddenly starts to speak in late episodes. However, it is soon revealed that it's not her speaking but a powerful witch channeling her voice through her to communicate with the protagonists.
  • January 23, 2012
    AP
    Yeah, we can rename the Silent Bob or use this name as a redirect.
  • January 23, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Reading Silent Bob I don't think that's this. That's when a character doesn't speak but is nevertheless very expressive. This is when a character who doesn't speak - not neccessarily one who is quite expressive otherwise - speaks.
  • January 24, 2012
    Synchronicity
    From the description of The Silent Bob:

    Another aspect of this trope is that it's normally incredibly significant when these characters speak; either they have something profound to say which will give the heroes incredibly useful insight, or another character's irritant tendencies are thrown into sharp relief when they manage to push The Stoic to the breaking point and he loses his temper, or the character's silence is a joke, and whatever they have to say is the punchline thereof. No matter which it is, the fact is that the other characters always find it to be of note when the Silent Bob does beign to speak.

    Compare The Quiet One.
  • February 7, 2012
    ThreeferFAQMinorityChick
    In All Shook Up, Sheriff Earl has acted as Matilda's entirely silent Dragon for 15 years and speaks for the first time in the show to reveal that he never agreed with Matilda at all and was only hanging around with her because he's been secretly in love with her.

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