[[DescribeTopicHere Describe Dumb Struck Here]]

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A HeroicBSOD intense enough to crash your language software. Which is to say, a character experiencing trauma or severe emotional stress loses the ability to speak.

How long this lasts varies. Sometimes the moment passes quickly, but other times the character remains silent until his or her emotional wounds are healed. Character with great suffering in their backstories, e.g. a BrokenBird, may be introduced as speechless and then begin to speak again to show that they are recovering. EpiphanyTherapy may be involved.

See also SarcasmFailure and {{Angrish}}.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In the last two episodes of the first season of ''Anime/AKB0048'', Nagisa suffers this from the 2nd half of Episode 12 to near the end of the first half of Episode 13.
* Phoebe and [[spoiler: Rita Rossi]] from ''Anime/AshitaNoNadja''.
* Casca from ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'' suffers the loss of her speech as well as her memory as part of [[GoMadFromTheRevelation Going Mad From The Revelation]] after [[spoiler:she is raped by Femto]] during the Eclipse.
* Young Clare in the ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' Flashback Arc.
* Jeremy in ''Manga/ACruelGodReigns'' after [[spoiler: Greg rapes him and whips him with a belt for the first time.]] He goes mute for about a day before [[spoiler: Ian]] snaps him out of it by [[spoiler: grabbing his arm.]]
** Valentine also experiences this, perhaps on the level of DespairEventHorizon.
* In ''Manga/DgrayMan'' The protagonist suffers this after the trauma of bringing back to life and killing his foster father. But when he starts to talk again, the person who took him in charge is shocked to discover Allen now talks exactly like the lhe deceased foster father.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'': One of the effects of Mello's kidnapping of [[spoiler:Light's sister Sayu]] is leaving her unable to talk. And walk. And do pretty much anything, really. [[spoiler: By the end, she's starting to get better.]]
* In the very first episode of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar,'' Lin was like this due to seeing her parents get murdered right in front of her by bandits (most likely Zeed's men). Kenshiro cures her of this using one of the healing techniques of the Hokuto Shinken.
* Kisa from ''Manga/FruitsBasket'' goes mute from being bullied at school and ignored by her only friend (and love interest).
* Rose in [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime adaptation]] of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''.
* In ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'', Sousuke was shown to have temporarily become mute when he was 3-4 years old, during his backstory. This being after he watched his mother (who died protecting him, telling him that he must survive no matter what, and "fight") fall to her death. He ''does'' end up being able to talk after he sees Kalinin (who had been constantly visiting him, trying to cheer him up and coax him to talk) slip and fall. Sousuke finally asks him if he's okay, and Kalinin [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming is overjoyed]].
* In ''Anime/JewelpetTwinkle'', Dian is mute from the start of the show. It's eventually revealed that he became that way because [[spoiler:he saw the Jewelpet Diana being created by a human]], was shocked by it and fell unconscious. When he woke up, he was mute and also had forgotten what happened. He recovers midway through the show because he sees [[spoiler:Diana]] again.
* As part of the epic poker game in ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'', D'arby tries to call on a hand that he knows he'll win... but ''nothing comes out''. (Jotaro has, through ''epic'' bluffing, convinced D'arby that he may well lose... and if he does, he's obliged to reveal the secret of Dio's Stand, for which Dio will certainly kill him.)
* Chapter 10 of ''Manga/MagicalRecordLyricalNanohaForce'' reveals that Lily Strosek used to be able to speak, but the emotional damage from her life as a lab experiment eventually made her unable to project her voice.
* Misato from ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', after surviving the Second Impact and seeing her dad getting killed by an Angel as a young teenager, spent at least a couple of years like this. When they're in college years later Ritsuko notices that Misato is quite the MotorMouth and speculates that she talks so much to make up for lost time.
* Played for humor in ''Manga/OnePiece''; when the Strawhat Crew's bounties are updated after Enies Lobby, Sanji is so upset with the picture on his (they couldn't get a photo, so it ends up as a {{Gonk}} version of him) that he stops speaking intelligibly for a while.
* Koji Nanjou in ''Manga/{{Zetsuai 1989}}'' goes mute after he's in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident. He's in a coma for a while and does come out of it, but when he wakes up he can't talk. This is a problem because he's a singer by profession.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' story "Sounding Off" (''Creator/CartoonNetwork Block Party'' #37), Blossom gives Bubbles and Buttercup the silent treatment as a means to make them solve their own problems. But during a battle with a monster, Blossom is suddenly rendered mute when the monster grabs her.

* Vegeta's shock at the end of ''[[FanFic/NewLookSeries Trunks' New Look]]'' messes up his gift of speech badly. He quickly snaps out of it, though.
* [[spoiler: Bill Cipher]] undergoes this in Chapter Seventeen of ''Fanfic/ATriangleInTheStars'' after Steven asks him an ArmorPiercingQuestion, mostly because he wasn't expecting Steven to stick around long enough to ask. It's temporary though, but he describes it as a computer going BSOD.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In the film ''Film/{{Amy|1998}}'', a young girl feigns deafness and doesn't speak after her father is killed.
* The character known as Grace in ''Film/DeadAgain'' starts the movie only able to talk in her sleep, but not at all while awake. It turns out she's having PastLife problems.
* ''Film/{{Halloween 1978}}''. Dr. Loomis said that after stabbing his sister to death and being institutionalized, Michael Myers "hasn't spoken a word in 15 years."
* In ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'', ever since Peter and Judy's parents died, the former apparently stopped speaking except when he screamed when the bats chased him down the stairs, but he talks around his sister.
* Karel from ''Film/TheSearch'' is a little boy who was a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. He was so traumatized that after the war all he can say is "''Ich weiss nicht''" ("I don't know"), which makes things hard for the UN workers trying to figure out where he comes from and where he belongs.
* ''Film/{{Scrooged}}''. The Tiny Tim stand-in is a little boy who hadn't spoken since he saw his father killed five years earlier. [[spoiler:In the Ghost of Christmas Future's flashforward, he's ultimately institutionalized for it. After the Scrooge stand-in's change of heart, the boy ultimately whispers "God bless us, everyone" at the close.]]
* In ''Film/UncleDad'', Debs has apparently not spoken since her mother died.
* Helen, the unspeaking young woman in Hitchcock's ''Film/TheSpiralStaircase'', is considered mute, but actually has not spoken since childhood, due to an early trauma. Her silence is an essential part of the film.
* In ''Film/TheOthers'', Lydia is mute. Grace finds out this was caused by Lydia [[spoiler:finding out that she and the other servants had died]].

* This is the plot of the Creator/ELKonigsburg book ''Silent to the Bone.'' The character who's silenced is accused of dropping his little sister and nearly killing her. However, this seems out-of-character for him, and his best friend tries to work with him to make him speak again. [[spoiler: In fact, it was a negligent nanny. However, I believe the boy had a crush on her, so he kept silent.]]
* In the Creator/LarryNiven story ''The Defenseless Dead'', part of the the Literautre/KnownSpace series, a brother and sister were kidnapped by organleggers. When they were released, the sister couldn't speak because of psychological trauma inflicted by the kidnappers.
* In ''Literature/HaloGhostsOfOnyx'', Spartan-III Lucy-B091 was one of two survivors of a ''300''-soldier mission. At [[HarmfulToMinors age]] [[ChildSoldiers 12]]. She hasn't spoken a single word in the 7+ years since - "Post-Traumatic Vocal Disarticulation", they called it.
* Rosilda in Swedish author Maria Gripe's ''...och de vita skuggorna i skogen'' (translated to Spanish, but not English), after her mother commits suicide. [[spoiler:Or is [[FakingTheDead believed to have done so]].]]
* The YA book ''Literature/{{Speak}}'' is about a teenage girl who [[spoiler: after being raped]] has stopped talking almost completely, the main manifestation of her depression.
* Marina in John Marsden's ''So Much To Tell You'', who stopped talking after a disfiguring acid burn. The only time she speaks is at the end when she gives the TitleDrop to her father. This is continued in the POVSequel ''Take My Word For It'', although she gets more dialogue after the above has occurred.
* [[spoiler: Katniss]] has a short bout of this in [[Literature/TheHungerGames Mockingjay]] [[spoiler: after Prim dies]]
* In ''Literature/HannibalRising'', a young Hannibal Lecter is rendered mute after witnessing his beloved little sister Mischa being murdered and cannibalized by starving Nazis during a brutal winter in World War II.
* In the ''Mage Winds'' trilogy of ''Literature/TheHeraldsOfValdemar'', a magical tragedy devastates the Tayledras k'Sheyna clan, leading many of the mages involved to [[MeaningfulRename change]] [[ThatManIsDead their names]]. A particularly traumatized woman ceases speaking entirely (except mind-to-mind) and calls herself "Silence." When the damage is repaired, she changes her name to "Snowfire" and starts talking again.


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The girl in ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', in the village that kidnaps Simon and River; River reads her mind, leading to the village wanting to burn her as a witch and the trope-naming BigDamnHeroes moment.
* The hybrids which control the Cylon ships in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' appear to (at least some extent) show this phenomenon. One of the original Cylon models (Leobin aka 2) theorizes that their seemingly nonsensical rambling is actually highly complex and coded prophecy. Later, Baltar and Diana (and later still Baltar and Rosalin) interpret a random statement about 3 seeing 5 as Diana (model 3) seeing the final five. Eventually, this is proven true.
* Felipe in the 1990 New World version of ''Franchise/{{Zorro}}''. In Isabel Allende's novel version, Bernardo's fate is similar, but his muteness is a choice rather than an affliction.
* One of a couple of possible explanations for Ike's muteness in ''Series/TheYoungRiders''.
* In an episode of ''Series/ILoveLucy'', Fred (a notorious penny-pincher) is completely unable to speak after realizing he wasted hundreds of dollars on a [[TheAllegedCar lemon]].
* In one episode of ''Series/BarneyAndFriends'', Kathy is afraid of an upcoming doctor visit, and has to be cheered up before she can talk.
* When Series/{{Buffy|The Vampire SLayer}} is brought back from the dead at the beginning of Season 6, her uncanny silence (in a character famous for her {{Bond One Liner}}s and DeadpanSnarker commentary) shows that she is NotHerself.
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "Earthshock" ends with all three surviving members of the TARDIS crew rendered speechless by Adric's death. Even Tegan, the most vocal of them, can only get two words out:
-->Adric? Doctor!

* In the RockOpera Music/{{Tommy}} by Music/TheWho, the title character becomes psychosomatically "deaf, dumb and blind" after witnessing his father being killed by his wife's lover and then being told, "[[LiteralGenie You didn't hear it / You didn't see it / You won't say nothing to no one.]]"

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/TheYoungBucks went from a celebratory high to this when the entire ''Wrestling/{{R|ingOfHonor}}OH'' production crashed at the 2016 ''Final Battle'' and rebooted with [[Wrestling/MattHardy Broken Matt]] projected [[TheCracker on the main screen]] ranting about bringing [[Wrestling/JeffHardy Brother Nero]] back to get rid them and The Briscoes.[[/folder]]

* In one stage adaptation of ''Literature/TheTurnOfTheScrew'', Flora has stopped speaking after whatever it was that happened with the previous governess (heavily implied in this version to be sexual abuse).

* Dagger is like this for a while near the end of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX''. Combined with FakeDifficulty here, as she is your only healer for about two or three somewhat tricky dungeons [[spoiler: (your other healer has been kidnapped by the BigBad)]] and Dagger being mute means that her magic fails to activate every other turn.
* Pilika in ''VideoGame/SuikodenII''.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyCrystalChronicles: Ring of Fates'' this happens to Chelinka after the twins survive a monster attack that kills their dad. [[spoiler:She eventually recovers from it, and is able to speak again.]]
* Max in ''VideoGame/ShiningForce'' and its remake ''Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon''
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Onmyoji}} Onmyōji]]'': In the first side story, Kurodōji suffers from a case of this after a certain traumatic event, which greatly concerns his friend [[LivingEmotionalCrutch Shirodōji]] who tries to help him recover. Kurodōji eventually slowly regains his speech ability again, but only then, it is barely a whisper.
-->'''Kurodōji:''' Shi… Shiro… dō… ji…
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' Ezio's mother Maria goes mute after witnessing the deaths of her husband and two of her sons and being abused by the city guards who arrested them, and spends much of the next 20 years praying beside her bed. Should the player gather 100 feathers she begins to speak again, and by the time of ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood'' has recovered.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', Lulu is so distraught over the theft of the eggs she laid that she is largely unable to speak or sing. Due to her being the lead singer of the Indigo-Gos, this required the band to cancel their scheduled performances. Summoning the Turtle with the New Wave Bossa Nova is enough to snap her out of it.

* Haley was like this for a long time in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''. She wasn't actually mute, she could just only talk in cryptograms which changed every comic.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* [[spoiler:Nessiah]] lost all of his functionality and wound up an EmptyShell for quite some time as part of the long process of recovering his health and sanity in ''Roleplay/DeptHeavenApocrypha''. Although he's been improving steadily, his ability to speak has been the last to return. As of this writing, he's in speech therapy.
* Uwe Boll's ''Film/{{Alone in the Dark|2005}}'' traumatized WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic enough that he had to review the movie through a text-to-speech program on his laptop. Since he didn't want the whole review to go like that, [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] and [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony]] [[{{Crossover}} volunteered to help him]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Paramount's 1963 Modern Madcap "Crumley Cogwheel" has the titular character a drone in an office pool who is called into the boss's office because in the twenty years he's worked for the company--Michigan Nuts And Bolts--he has never asked for a raise. His timidness leaves him tongue-tied and incapable of rational speech, so he is given a week to ask for a raise or be fired. Cogwheel apparently finds the courage through liquid courage...he gets drunk during a lunch break, interrupts a board meeting and forcibly demands a raise.
* Towards the end of the first season of ''WesternAnimation/BojackHorseman'', Bojack confronts Diane after [[spoiler: The book she had written about him portrayed him as a selfish, immature jerk]] at a public Q&A for writers. He asks if there any hope that he can be better person. Diane is unable to respond to such a desperate, nakedly emotional appeal and just sits there silently.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'' episode "Luck Amok", Tigger's attempts to rid Piglet of his "bad luck" end with him getting traumatized with a wide-eyed look on his face. He remains that way until the very end.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Maya Angelou, who wrote ''I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings'', spent five years of her childhood nearly mute, believing that if she spoke, her words would be responsible for someone getting killed. This came about due to a traumatic incident when she was eight, when she was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend and she confessed what had happened to her brother, who told the rest of her family. The boyfriend spent one day in jail, but was found beaten to death four days after his release. Angelou credits her teacher Bertha Flowers for helping her to speak again, as well as introducing her to the classics of literature that would later serve as the foundation for her later career as a writer, poet, actress and civil rights activist.
* Torey Hayden's biographical book ''Murphy's Boy'' (later adapted into the film ''Trapped in Silence'') is based on a real-life case of this.
* James Corbett encountered someone like this when he was assigned to hunt down a maneating tiger by UsefulNotes/TheRaj. She was a woman who tried unsuccessfully to save her sister from a tiger, and ended up witnessing her sister's death before being chased by the tiger herself. Her family told Corbett she had not spoken since the attack, which took place a year before Corbett met her. She began speaking again after Corbett killed the tiger and showed her its skin, although Corbett himself was skeptical that this was the only factor in her recovery.
* This can happen, temporarily or permanently, as a result of brain damage or illness, and is known as aphasia. It can often happen due to stroke, but can also be brought about temporarily by migraines or epilepsy.
* Autistic individuals sometimes have this happen to them as a reaction to being overwhelmed, experiencing [[SensoryOverload sensory overload,]] or facing extreme stress, as well as other reasons; although in this case it would be called going nonverbal.