Whereas TheSpeechless doesn't talk because they are physically incapable of speech, this character ''can'' speak, but for some reason chooses not to, instead using sign language or other methods of communication. The reasons for this may vary: in most cases, it is either due to some sort of personal beliefs (like a religious vow of silence or a philosophical concept that "words are useless") or a psychological trauma. In some cases, they [[https://selectivemutismcenter.org/whatisselectivemutism/ may only speak to a few selected individuals]].

Compare TheQuietOne; some examples may overlap between these two. Also compare SilentBob, CannotTalkToWomen, ElectiveUnintelligible and ElectiveBrokenLanguage. Contrast TheVoiceless, who presumably does speak, but we never hear his/her voice onscreen.


[[AC: Anime and Manga]]
* In the early parts of ''Manga/BunnyDrop'', Rin falls into this. At first, the only one who she opens up to is Daikichi, in part because he resembles his grandfather (who is also Rin's father), and in part because he's at first the only adult who seems at all concerned for her well-being. It's most strongly demonstrated when, after slowly but surely opening up to others, Daikichi takes Rin to see his mother and father over the new year's holiday - and Rin immediately clams up again, remembering the harsh treatment she had previously received.
* Part of the central premise of ''Manga/KomiSanWaKomyushouDesu''. Shouko Komi, the main character, is a perfect YamatoNadeshiko on the outside, but inside she's a ShrinkingViolet who's completely incapable of communicating with others. She does speak every now and then, mainly when alone with [[OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent Tadano]], but most of the time she communicates either via notepad or via Tadano reading her body language and explaining to everyone else what she's thinking.
* One of the traditions binding the shrine maiden Touka in ''Manga/ShindereShoujoToKodokuNaShinigami'' is that she is absolutely forbidden from speaking with any man regardless of the circumstances, up to and including her own brother. The sole exception is her husband, when she chooses to take one.
* Eucliwood from ''LightNovel/IsThisAZombie''. Her words are powerful enough to kill so she doesn't speak (except writing on paper and Ayumu's imagination).
* Megumi on ''Manga/SpecialA'' writes on a notepad to communicate in order to protect her singing voice, which as a result is devastatingly powerful. [[spoiler: She does speak a few times, though.]]
* Switch from ''Manga/SketDance'' never speaks with his real voice. Instead, he uses a (very realistic) speech synthesizer, which he controls from the computer keyboard. Later his BackStory explains the tragic cause of this unwillingness to speak. [[spoiler: In the last few chapters, he starts speaking again.]]
* [[HookerWithAHeartOfGold Isabelle]] from ''Manga/InnocentsShounenJuujigun'' is implied to be this, as she's said to be mute but speech easily returns to her after meeting [[AllLovingHero Etienne]]. She tells Guy and Nicolas that, after [[spoiler: she and Etienne made love]], the desire and will to speak were pretty much overflowed into her.
* [[spoiler: Hakko]] from ''Anime/{{Canaan}}'' turns out to be this. [[spoiler: Her Borner power resides in her voice, which releases lethal and very powerful waves; it can cause brain damage on those who hear it, and destroy any buildings/materials/etc. in her surroundings.]] For worse, the audience finds out [[spoiler:after she's tricked by Liang Qi into killing her boss and love interest Santana.]]]
* Kouji Kouda from ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'' is a ShrinkingViolet who rarely ever speaks, usually preferring to communicate with sign language. Ironically, his Quirk is voice-based, as he has the ability to [[TheBeastmaster speak to and command animals]].
* Kisa Sohma from ''Manga/FruitsBasket'' doesn't speak at all when she's first introduced, due to her classmates bullying her by laughing whenever she tried to say anything. After experiencing Tohru's kindness and encouragement, she eventually opens up and starts speaking more often.

* While this trope isn't TheSilentBob, Silent Bob from Film/TheViewAskewniverse would be an example.
* Black Bolt of ComicBook/TheInhumans. He can talk, but chooses not to since his voice is as powerful as a nuke, and usually uses his wife, Medusa, as his translator
* Kevin from ''ComicBook/SinCity'' never says a word on panel, his father Cardinal Roark informs Marv that he only talks to him. He also adds that Kevin's voice is immensely beautiful.
* The angel Duma from ''Comicbook/TheSandman'' and its spinoff ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}''. Initially justified by his function as the Guardian of Silence; however, he continues to be silent after the Creator gives him a new function as co-ruler of Hell. (This is based on Jewish folklore which casts Duma as ruler of Gehenna, as his name is one of the biblical synonyms for the underworld, and in fact ''means'' "silence" in Hebrew.) He is nonetheless able to communicate through facial expressions and gestures and, in ''Comicbook/{{Lucifer}}'', even in discrete words through telepathy. In the latter comic, he finally [[spoiler: breaks his silence in order to stop co-ruler Remiel from tearing apart Rudd's soul and to appoint Rudd as the new ruler of Hell]].
** In the Creator/PhilFoglio version of ''ComicBook/StanleyAndHisMonster'', Duma "speaks" by showing little notes to his colleagues.
** Also in ''The Sandman'', in ''The Doll's House'' Chantal always speaks for her partner Zelda [[spoiler:who has a really bad stutter.]] In ''The Kindly Ones'', Zelda is forced to speak for herself, [[spoiler:Chantal having died in the intervening years.]]
* Also, in ''Endless Nights'', Delirium's story "Going Inside" features a girl who does not speak after being raped. Towards the end of the comic [[spoiler:she is shown as recovering and speaking after helping to find Delirium]].

[[AC: Fairy Tales]]
* In the story "[[Literature/TheSixSwans "The Six/Wild Swans]]", collected by the Creator/GrimmBrothers and Creator/HansChristianAndersen among others, a FallenPrincess must make six shirts out of nettles '''and''' can't make a sound for seven years or the spell that transformed her six brothers into swans will never be broken. [[spoiler: She manages to keep all of these conditions and gets to break the spell.]]

* In ''Fanfic/PokemonMysteryDungeonDefendersOfWarmth'', Vulpix is this because of her social awkwardness and amnesia, choosing to only talk to Bulbasaur and, later, Isola. Anyone else she only speaks to when spoken to. This changes after she [[spoiler:remembers her human life]].
* Rajotel in ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World''. He took a vow of public silence several years ago and communicates via sign language in public, or will whisper in his partner Quill's ear if he absolutely must.
* [[spoiler: Mirror, the mini-con]], from ''FanFic/CardcaptorRad''. He ''can'' presumably speak, since it's shown he's able to talk to [[spoiler: Sideways]] somehow, but it's stated that [[spoiler: Mirror]] doesn't talk to ''anyone'' else, even when the situation calls for it
* ''FanFic/ThePiecesLieWhereTheyFell'': The Questioning Order is noted to rarely say anything due to their desire to prevent any changeling infiltrations. This was proven during their founding, when they allowed many of their order to be killed without making a sound in response. They can and do speak behind soundproof barriers, but in the presence of others, they use only sign language (and react angrily when anyone outside their group can translate it).

* Peter in ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'', who talks to no one but his older sister Judy ever since their parents death by car accident. Once Alan gets out of the game and finds his parents are also dead, Peter starts talking to him as well.
* In ''Film/ThePiano'', the protagonist Ada has been mute by choice since her childhood.
* Dwayne of ''Film/LittleMissSunshine'' begins the film as this because he's taken a vow of silence until he can join the Air Force Academy. However, he begins speaking regularly after [[spoiler:finding out he's color-blind and thus can't become a pilot]]. His first word is a very loud [[PrecisionFStrike "FUCK!"]]
* The Korean ''Hi, Dharma!'' comedy movies, about Buddhist monks in a modern society, has one monk under a vow of silence, PlayedForLaughs.
* Snake Eyes from ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra''; in the film it's mentioned he took a vow of silence after Storm Shadow apparently killed their master. Originally, the end of the movie was going to have him speak to tell a joke, but it was cut, probably [[InternetBackdraft for the best]].
* The titular character of ''Film/AndreiRublev'' atones for killing a man by taking a vow of silence. It takes 15 years until he breaks his silence.
* In ''Film/HarryAndTonto'' Harry's grandson, a practicing Buddhist has taken a vow of silence and communicates only by gestures or scribbling on a notepad.
* ''Film/AveMaria'' revolves around a convent in Palestine in which the nuns have taken vows of silence. This proves to be a problem when a Jewish family crashes their car right outside the convent, and they come in looking for assistance.

* In ''Literature/TheHouseOfTheSpirits'', a very young Clara becomes mute by choice after predicting the death of her older sister Rosa [[ItsAllMyFault and blaming herself for it]], and doesn't speak for nine years until her engagement to Esteban. Later on, after he hits her in the face, she promises to never speak to him again, and communicates to him only through signs till the end of her life.
* In ''Literature/TheGrassDancer'', Lydia becomes this after an accident that claimed her husband and son.
* The young seeress Raven from ''Literature/TheMistsOfAvalon'' has taken a vow of silence and dedicated her voice to the Goddess.
* Nastya Kashnikov [[spoiler:or [[{{Fauxreigner}} Emily Ward]]]], of ''Literature/TheSeaOfTranquility'', stopped talking [[spoiler:except only in the presence of Josh]] after undergoing a [[BreakTheCutie violent assault]], [[spoiler:and regains her voice, along with true name, after she understands and accepts that her musical career is forever ruined after her hand has been destroyed by the attack]].
* Charles Wallace was this as a child in ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime.'' By the time of the later books, he has grown out of it.
* The young adult novel ''Robin's Country'' centers around Dummy/Richard's learning to speak. He is this for most of the book after Marion discovers he is not actually TheVoiceless (he sometimes talks in his sleep).
* Lewis from the book ''Lightland'' is ''highly'' selective about who he talks around. He won't speak to his mother, teachers, classmates, neighbors- only to his friend Lottie. When he finally speaks to someone besides her, It's a pretty dramatic scene.
* Ben from the book ''The White Giraffe'' is less selective, but still only speaks to his parents, and his new friend Martine. the other students don't believe he can talk at all. In the second book, he opens up a bit more, and everyone is shocked that he ''talks''.
* In ''Literature/TheDiamondThrone'', the foundling Flute doesn't speak at all, except possibly off-page to Sephrenia, the only other member of her race in the party. Partway through the following book, she apparently decides this is tiresome and reverts to her true personality, which is decisive and bossy.
* The aptly named wizard Silent from ''Literature/TheBlackCompany'' novels certainly qualifies. The circumstances leading to his vow of silence are speculated on by the narrator and other members of the company but are ultimately never revealed (everyone leaves their past and their real name behind when they sign up.) Refusing to utter a word doesn't make him any less badass a soldier or competent a wizard. Indeed, his speaking in sign language is eventually adopted by other members of company as for use as military hand signals.
* In ''Tobacco Road'', Pearl is willing to talk only with her mother Ada, and even then uses few words. Jeeter reflects that Ada herself used to not speak to him.
* In ''Literature/PeterPaysTribute'', Matt has gone more than a year without talking. When he finally does, he starts out only talking to his close friend.
* In ''[[Literature/RoTeO Ro.Te.O]]'', Satoshi (aka Uriel) is one. So far, he's only chosen to talk when voicing Daichi - a protagonist in the [[ShowWithinAShow Show Within A Web Serial Novel]].
* A half-German boy living in Norway in WWI is violently beaten by schoolmates whose fathers were killed by a U-boat, in Jan Guillou's ''The Bridge Builders''. When he recovers from the beating he refuses to speak Norwegian [[spoiler:so he will no longer have to attend Norwegian school]]. He still speaks German, though, so this might also be a case of ElectiveUnintelligible.
* In ''[[AscendanceTrilogy The False Prince]]'', Imogen the maid is believed by everyone to be mute. [[spoiler: She eventually reveals to Sage that it's a ploy to keep unwanted attention at bay. From then on, she speaks to him whenever they are alone, although she keeps up the act to others until near the end of the book.]]
* In ''Literature/TheWitchlands'', Owl doesn't speak, likely because of the trauma of whatever happened to her before Aeduen and Iseult met her.
* ''Literature/TheSagaOfThePeopleOfLaxardal'': Melkorka, an Irish princess, pretends to be mute after she is taken captive and enslaved at the age of fifteen. Hoskuld buys her and brings her to Iceland, where she gives birth to Hoskuld's child. When the boy is two years old, Hoskuld overhears her talking Irish with her son, and finally gets her whole story out of her.
* In ''Literature/NoTalking'', the no-talking contest consists of the characters choosing to not speak, though they can. Nodding, gesturing, tapping, poking, mouth sounds, tongue-clicking, lip popping, raspberries, animal sounds, writing notes, and sign language are all fair game, though.

* In ''Series/AllInTheFamily'' episode "Mike's Hippie Friends Come to Visit", the beautiful hippie girl Robin believes that words are "a waste of time" and therefore only speaks with her eyes.
* Jessie's brother John in ''Series/{{Jessie}}'' upheld a vow of silence and was completely mute until That One Critical Moment when he decided to speak and save Jessie's relationship. For the rest of the season he became the good-natured wisecracker of the cast.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', the woman from the village of kidnappers assumes that Ruby must be this after River explains why Ruby stopped talking. Subverted when River corrects the woman, saying, "Ruby doesn't talk. Her voice got scared away." (In other words, River read Ruby's mind.)
* The mostly silent Conundrum, from ''Series/TheXFiles'' episode "Humbug," spoke only one line, to Mulder and Scully and in the presence of Dr. Blockhead, at the end of the episode. It was implied he was very selective about those he spoke to.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': After witnessing his dad's death, the son refuses to even talk with his mom. Dean gets him to open up little by little and by the end of the episode, he's back to the little kid he was before the incident.

[[AC:Pro Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/{{Sting}} took a vow of silence in Wrestling/{{WCW}} in October of 1996 (right after the Wrestling/NewWorldOrder hired an impostor Sting to frame the real Sting for a heinous act) and would not speak again until January of 1998 - and that was only out of anger at being stripped of the [[http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wcw/wcw-h.html WCW World Heavyweight Championship]].

* In the play (and movie) ''Reckless'', [[spoiler: Pooty]] is this. Due to a SnowballLie, [[spoiler:her husband]] thinks she's a deaf-mute. When she's alone or with someone who will keep her secret, she talks.

* The Bug in ''Hover Car Racer'' only talks to people he feels very comfortable with and close to.
* Chell from the ''{{Portal}}'' series is a HeroicMute, which is {{Lampshaded}} several times by other characters. WordOfGod says that she can talk, but since everyone she meets is a jerk she doesn't want to give them the satisfaction of a response.
* The New Kid of ''Videogame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'' is a parody of {{Heroic Mime}}s and thus responds to everything with stone-cold silence, to the frustration of others. However at the end of the game [[spoiler:he tells the kids "[[ScrewThisImOuttaHere Screw you guys, I'm going home]]" when they talk about playing a new game]].
* "The Ancient" from the Space marine campaign of ''[[VideoGame/DawnOfWar Dawn Of War II: Retribution]]'' never speaks, [[GameplayAndStoryIntegration not even to confirm the player's orders]], as he's taken a vow of silence to atone for past sins. [[spoiler: That is until the latter portion of the campaign when he breaks his silence to [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan verbally slap]] Diomedes out of a HeroicBSOD, [[TomatoSurprise revealing himself]] to be Sargent Tarkus from the Original Campaign and ''Chaos Rising'' expansion.]]
* Quiet in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' deliberately doesn't speak because [[spoiler:she's infected with the English strain of the vocal chord parasite. Said parasite will kill her if she speaks English.]]
* In ''VideoGame/ShopHeroes'', Odette never speaks when visiting your shop. If you do her personal quests, however, it turns out that she can speak if she wants to.
* An Au Ra tribe in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' refuses to speak to anyone and even towards each other because they believe that all spoken words are lies and the truth comes from your facial and body language. Naturally, some [=NPCs=] find this confusing and frustrating to deal with.

* The Poopsmith in ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'', who has taken a vow of silence (for no explained reason).
** [[spoiler:He broke his apparent vow of silence to sing the intro to [[http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemailtwohundred.html Strong Bad Email #200]].]]
*** [[spoiler: Hey, The Poopsmith sounds exactly like [[Music/TheyMightBeGiants John Linnell]]!]]

* Blackwing, Vaarsuvius' {{Familiar}} in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', is fluent in Common, but initially refuses to communicate with the elf except through the empathic link that they share, out of disrespect for his master. He only begins speaking out loud after an EnemyMine incident which causes them to set aside their differences and ends with the pair seeing each other as FireForgedFriends.

* On the Roleplay/BehindTheVeil site there's Jennifer O'Connell, who stopped talking completely after the car crash that killed her parents and left her stranded in there for hours (due to her own paralysis). She only very recently started to talk again, and only to her step-mother or when the situation is important enough.
* In ''WebVideo/PrimitiveTechnology'', the [[NoNameGiven unnamed man]] in those videos never speaks. In his blog, he explains that he never enjoyed the explanation parts of videos and simply fast-fowarded to where the actual project was being done. Thus, in his own videos, he simply demonstrates his various projects by doing them before the camera and gives terse explanations of what he's doing or what's going on at that moment in the closed captions. Judging from his subscriber count (well over six ''million'') and the numerous comments of watchers saying they appreciate how he gets right to the point, this approach has served him well. The closed captions approach makes it easy for fans of his show to provide the captions in other languages as well.

* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'': Played with by Soundwave; while he doesn't use his own voice to speak, he uses recordings of others to communicate. He's apparently taken some kind of vow of silence, which Starscream considers a "cop out". [[spoiler: He speaks exactly one line in his own voice (which sounds like an updated version of G1 Soundwave's, or Dr. Claw's from ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'').]] [[spoiler: He is way more talkative in the sequel ''WesternAnimation/TransformersRobotsInDisguise'', though he sounds a lot like his G1 incarnation.]]
[[AC: Real Life]]
* Actually subverted with a real-life condition which was initially called Elective Mutism; people with this condition don't speak to anyone except a few selected individuals, and it was initially assumed that they do so by choice. In reality, they cannot help it; therefore the condition was eventually renamed to [[http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/SelectiveMutism/ Selective Mutism]].
* Monks and other religious figures who gave a vow of silence.
* Indian mystic and spiritual leader Meher Baba stopped speaking in 1925, at the age of 31, and until his death in 1969, he only communicated by an alphabet board and hand gestures.