THEY WERE *CRUCIAL* TO THE JOKE
A silent panel in sequential art. Usually the next-to-last panel in a serialized comic strip, since it approximates the comedic pause before a punchline.
Particularly efficient comic artists may copy and paste adjacent panels
, since the point of the Beat Panel
is usually that the characters are frozen in contemplation. Another variation is to have two
beat panels, with just a quizzical change of expression in the second to show a character's confusion (more likely to happen in a four-panel strip than a three-panel strip). It can also be unusually long
to indicate a long beat.
Compare Silent Scenery Panel
. A Beat
is the (un)spoken version.
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Anime and Manga
- Christopher Priest (comics) might well be the Trope Codifier. Quantum and Woody, Black Panther, and pretty much everything else he wrote were rife with beat panels. The impressive thing was that as often as he used them, they never got stale or overdone; he knew exactly when and where to use them.
- The Keith Giffen/J. M. DeMatteis comedy incarnation of Justice League used this all the time, sometimes featuring entire Beat Pages.
- J.M. DeMatteis's run on Spectacular Spider-Man featured a beat page - but it wasn't funny, rather it was one of the creepiest pages ever seen in a comic book.
- Used excessively in Invincible, then Lampshaded when the main character gets his comics signed by an artist who comments on his use of copying and pasting panels.
- In the comic Teen Titans, after Beast Boy asked Raven to go with him on a "not-a-date", there was a beat panel before Raven said "Let's go".
- In an Invincible Iron Man issue, Pepper Potts admits to Maria Hill that she slept with Tony. A shocked Maria Hill admit that she also slept with Tony a few days before Potts. Follows a succession of panel with both looking shocked, each at each other, and then each looking down, visibly angry. After that, Hill mutters a simple "Tony Stark. Tony fucking Stark.
- One of the traditions of a super team crossover is having a few B-List (Or even) major villains crash the headquarters seeking revenge, then a beat panel as they realize there are quite a few more super heroes than they expected.
- Peter David enjoys regular use of these. The Madrox mini-series contained a number of examples.
- In Scott Pilgrim, Scott asks Wallace what the website for Amazon.ca is. Wallace gets his beat panel with a dumbfounded look and a series of ellipses and responds ".... Amazon.ca".
- Life in Hell occasionally uses these to an extreme. Matt Groening refers to these as "all those Akbar and Jeff strips where they stare at each other." Keep in mind there were often dozens of panels to a page.
- During the Joss Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men, the morning after Peter Rasputin and Kitty Pryde finally make love, they meet with Wolverine in the kitchen. Two beat panels follow; one where Wolverine looks at Peter, and one where he looks at Kitty. He then returns to his breakfast, muttering, "'Bout time."
- Two separate pages of these in the Twilight Sparkle Micro Series issue, indicating the awkward silence between Jade and Twilight during their meals.
- Kevin Maguire specializes in multi-panel closeups of characters trying not to break down in laughter.
- A noticeable, though not exactly comedic, example occurs in The Wicked And The Divine. Annie tells the cops not to follow her, immediately turns into Badb and threatens them, and then dissolves into crows. After that happens, everybody stares at where she was standing for a moment before a total riot breaks out.
- Pretty much every comic has used this at some point. It's been around since the early days of comics, but it really took off in the 60's and 70's, when a new generation of cartoonists raised on films and television sought to make their comics more cinematic. Doonesbury is often credited with popularizing the beat, and it remains one of the most frequent users of this trope.
- A comic strip by David Lynch was almost entirely made up of beat panels. The same ones. For ten years.
- Herman used this panel often, and sometimes so many at once that only one panel had any dialogue in it.
- Interestingly, The Far Side occasionally pulled this off in a one-panel strip. The visual was some awkward situation, while the punchline came in the caption.
- Discussed as well as demonstrated in this Barney And Clyde strip seen here.
- 2P START! features the mighty April Fools Day comic known as A Conversation, which may just be one of the tallest strips in existence due to the sheer number of beat panels it contains.
- "Itís a trifecta. The comic tests the siteís bandwidth, your patience, and my sanity."
- In A Moment Of Peace there are three entire pages of "Awkward Pause" following Ito's declaration of love.
- Project0 interestingly enough on page 8 of part 1.1 and page 8 of part 1.2.
- Refined into an art by Achewood except that it usually happens in the final panel to highlight an awkward silence or just something bizarre getting a bewildered reaction. Here is a good example for you to enjoy.
- Used often in The Optimist to represent listening, waiting, pausing to consider, watching TV, drawing, consideration & reconsideration, boiling with rage, waiting for acknowledgement, disbelief, and scowling.
- Adorable Desolation uses the Beat Panel often, two examples are here and here
- Lampshaded in this Ansem Retort strip.
- Bob and George is famous for the third panel pause. Naturally, it gets lampshaded (along with one of the author's more common comic formulae) in the course of the comic.
- Especially this strip, which had a three-panel pause.
- This Brawl in the Family comic.
- Cyanide and Happiness uses this, frequently. Very frequently.
- This strip is the most consecutive beat panels in a comic found so far. (If you can't figure it out: Use the horizontal scrollbar.)
- Darths & Droids: Click here for possibly the best beat panel, ever.
- Death to the Extremist uses this constantly. Often taken Up to Eleven with comics like this.
- Dystopia demonstrates Medium's new reflex upgrades.
- Happens rather frequently in 8-Bit Theater. A prime example is here.
- El Goonish Shive uses this when Grace explains the plan to cure Elliot of his problem.
- Also, Tedd and the spilled barrel of exposition, Nanase talking about Ellen with Susan. Grace realizing she had to break her "morphing moratorium", Ellen coming back to Earth and informed of the Elliot's upcoming powers and "Man Engulfs Food" looking at dining Grace.
- Once turned into gag in its own right.
And now, by popular demand, Jeremy, the creature nature never intended in his own comic!!!!!!!!
- "Maybe you just think a woman can't be physically strong without turning into a man."
Gary: Oh, I'm terribly sorry! I didn't mean to be rude, it's just I used to think you didn't want to go on a second date with me because I was too geeky.
Nanase: Yes, it was entirely because I was a lesbian.
Gary: Phew! Well, ain't that a boost for my fragile ego!
- This page is composed mostly of beat panels. It opens with Elliot sitting on the couch in a shocked pose due to his realization that Sarah is like a sister to him. He breaks pose slightly to make a quick phone call to Ellen, and then promptly returns to his prior shocked pose.
- Flying Man and Friends alternates between having the beat panel at the end of the strip and having it somewhere in the middle.
- Folly and Innovation does this on occasion
- A Game of Fools uses them quite a bit.
- Likewise, Garfield Minus Garfield seems to thrive on the beat panel.
- Girl Genius manages two in a row with different responses. Another one, courtesy of Sleipnir O'Hara.
- A Running Gag with characters realizing what they just said — Moloch, Agatha and Tarvek.
- Here and here it's an unspoken punchline.
- When Gil and Captain Vole discuss the false Heterodyne heir.
Vole: De pipple of Mechanicsburg vould not ekcept [shutting down Castle Heterodyne] as proof dot she iz a Heterodyne.
Gil: No, neither would my father.
Vole:...not unless she danced nekked through de ruins vile trying to shoot down de moon, turned all de tourists into monsters—and den built a very dangerous fountain out of sausages.
- Goblins does this sometimes. The best example is probably Minmax here.
- Head Trip doubles up on the beat panels in this strip because, well, as that particular chapter of Breaking Dawn put it, "There Are No Words For This".
- Used in full by hello earthling, and regularly too. Perhaps the most abusive example on this trope is here.
- Irregular Webcomic! does this very often.
- Matt Groening's Life in Hell uses these quite a lot, especially in the strips featuring Akbar and Jeff. Here◊ is a typical example.
- Here is a Heroic BSOD version from Megatokyo.
- My Middle Name's Adventure has been employing this since the first strip.
- But most notably in strips with Amed. 
- The readers of Narbonic refer to this as the "Silent Penultimate Panel". Here's a double example (fourth strip down).
- this is specifically when the next-to-last panel is the one that is the Beat Panel. Done often enough that one of the regular readers of Narbonic Director's Cut maintains a running total.
- The Order of the Stick has a lot. "It seems unlikely". More good news. "How cute!" And a double when Roy x Miko ship sinks for good.
- There is an absolutely epic final panel beat in strip this Partially Clips strip.
- Nice little parody in Penny Arcade.
- This Yelling Bird strip from Questionable Content. (It makes more sense if you read this first)
- Realfield frequently subverts this by removing the punchline altogether. Trust me, it's funny.
- Sequential Art has its share of beat panels. Like with Kat looking at Art's art and the next comic, this or Iron-Pip, Art and colleague or this, with poor Kat... And now Art and Pip. Later, with Hilary and her foxy "new contact".
Scarlet?! What are you wearing? Scarlet: Soopa soots
You built them just now? Amber:
Nuh-uh. We've been working on them since the giant bug incident. (beat) Kat and Art: What
giant bug incident?! Amber:
- In this Shortpacked! strip, when Batman is left without an opportunity to complete his Stealth Hi/Bye, he gets two panels to come up with an alternate solution.
- Beaten to absolute death in Sketch Comedy.
- A fancomic called Sonic College did this with three.
- Lightning Made Of Owls gota Beet Panel.
- Square Root of Minus Garfield does this here with reference to this page, and comment that Garfield might not use it enough.
- Stickman and Cube does this often, usually when one of the characters does or says something incredibly bone-headed.
- Ruben Bolling's Tom the Dancing Bug mocked this trope mercilessly, with a strip that claimed that "the more silent reaction panels before the punchline, the funnier it is!", demonstrating by showing a strip with one beat panel, two beat panels and 100 beat panels (which was, in fact, hilarious).
- Lots of these in Vexxarr: when a Minionbot finally wraps its mind around some inclinations of the humanity. And again. And this.
- This VG Cats comic has six beat panels. The extended silence is probably a measure of Leo's dimwittedness.
- He almost gets it about halfway through.
- Used in this comic after the girl had a bit of a Fridge Logic.
- Humon uses beat panels to hilarious effect in all of her webcomics. Some of the funniest ones:
- Appears a few times in Harkovast during the more light hearted moments, especially on this page where it actually happens twice in succession.
- Butterflies◊ in The Perry Bible Fellowship.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has unimpressed Annie. And two more with highly unimpressed Kat. A double beat panel punchline, and later triple beat panel, the scenes in question entirely justifying this much.
- Here, thanks to the Amazing Super Powers of a Split-Screen Phone Call.
- Lampshaded through the fourth wall in ''Retail''.
- Rusty and Co., in the re-acquaintance of The Princess and White Knight.
- Roxy gets a magnificent one when she realizes she's standing right next to lit dynamite.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has a good one when Monster Adventurers meet "Here There Be Dragons".
- The KA Mics Has done this a number of times, sometimes as punchlines or inverted.
- Exterminatus Now has... uh... this (see the previous page for explanation). And a beat panel with punchline silent panel.
- The Extremely Post-Modern Adventures of Flint and Hinawa revolves around having two or even three beat panels between the setup and the usually oddball punchline. This is used to the extreme in Comic #6◊, where the beat just continues right to the end without a punchline.
- This strip of Wapsi Square uses beat panels in a rather creepy way. Pay attention to the light from the window.
- Miscellaneous Error uses a beat panel in an early comic.
- Fans! recently used beat panels(and other silent panels) in an innovative way in the arc "Crossover", which involves an attack on a crossword-fans convention. Each of the 18 pages has six square frames, with periodic beat panels, and each beat panel is framed in a thick black outline. As the final page displays, when all the panels are arranged in order, they form a crossword panel, with each beat panel as a black space, and the first letter in each of the other panels is used in the crossword solution.
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff does this all the time in a highly exaggerated manner.
- Homestuck proper finally gets four beat panels (a lot for a comic that usually has one panel on each page) when Gamzee prototypes Equius into Dirk's sprite and causes a highly-anticipated awkward moment.
- This webcomic  consists entirely of beat panels in the first comic. But what do you expect from a comic called "The Mind-numbingly Boring Webcomic"? It appears to get better and actually funny in the next actual comic, but who knows how it will proceed.
- A Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver strip uses two consecutive beat panels as the punchline.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has one while checking for an answer to a rhetorical question.
- Sinfest got a few good ones such as when the main cast tries to "zap back" Tangerine.
- O Human Star has plenty of these, but especially here.
- Shamus Young, writer of the webcomics DM of the Rings, was pretty proud of himself when he used three consecutive beat panels. It worked very well.
- Used every now and again in morphE to build an awkward moment. One moment in particular took up more than half the update for the gag.