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Lull Destruction
"It never. Shuts. Up! There is always talking! Always loud music! Always something knocking in your ears! The whole movie is like this! There is never a silent moment where the film can just breathe, or take a break! It is nothing but NOISE! [...] It's like [the movie]'s afraid that if it stops being loud and bouncy, it's going to lose the children's attention!"

A seemingly prevalent idea is that silence for more than five seconds will bore the audience.

Any empty space in the script has lines added. Voiceovers are dubbed over contemplative moments to mention blatantly obvious things. The characters may flat-out describe every last thought or feeling they're experiencing. A narrator may show up and explain everything that's happening onscreen. Songs appear to explain anything the narrator hadn't just clarified, just in case the audience still might not get it. Basically, the whole concept of "Show, don't tell" is thrown out the window.

This is particularly prevalent in animation imported into America. Since dubbed cartoons shown on children's television are frequently edited, this requires cutting out the original background music and making the lull more obvious. That putting dialog here completely avoids Lip Lock is another considerable bonus. This practice is largely disliked, partially because of a "They Changed It, Now It Sucks" mentality, partially because many audiences resent the implication that they have five-second attention spans, and partially because silence can be an important storytelling tool that the original artists included for a reason.

That said, this isn't always a bad thing and many Woolseyisms take advantage of this. The original may be suffering from filler or slow pacing; and sometimes too much silence causes the audience to become aware they are watching a movie. While this is not especially common with American cartoons nowadays (since many run in a Three Shorts format, and simply aren't long enough to have them), a more accepted way to fill out a lull is to add Mickey Mousing; the theatrical Looney Tunes cartoons were famous for this. Occasionally, it can add some gags that actually are funny.

There even is a comic equivalent, where every single panel MUST have a speech bubble, even if unnecessary or detracting from the scene; see Talking Is a Free Action.

See Silence Is Golden and Mime and Music-Only Cartoon for times that this trope isn't used.

Not to be confused with Lulz Destruction, Cozy Catastrophe (where it's the destruction that's lull), or with a Moment of Silence over a scene of destruction.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: The more recent episodes have very few moments of silence, the maximum being about three seconds of silence per episode. The old episodes were short on silent moments as well, but the silent moments were much easier to find back then.
    • This is actually brought up by the American producer, director and translator of Pokemon The First Movie in their DVD commentary. The long silence during an early montage of Mewtwo's storm and the heroes resting in a Pokémon Center is filled with a voiceover of Nurse Joy explaining a mythological aspect to the storm that wouldn't otherwise be apparent to American viewers. Another scene had several minutes of the heroes climbing a stairwell: although the only notable change to the scene is the addition of suspenseful music; the director comments on how the original had no music at all, just footsteps and waterdrops.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, One Piece (until another company rescued it), and any other animated show dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment.
    • Taken to an extreme in this video, in which all the previously silent nightmares of the Winx Club have had plenty of dialog added to them.
    • Winx Club also provides a case of this trope being a plot point: In a 2nd season episode, Musa notices a girl walking past her, and she realizes that it's Darcy in disguise. In the original, she walks past silently, but in the dub, Darcy says "Gag me" in response to their dancing, and her voice tips Musa off (and most likely the intended viewership, too, as she doesn't disguise her voice at all). (It's at the 1:00 mark in this video.)
  • Every season of Digimon has this, usually to insert a funny line or to make the show easier to understand.
    • A Brick Joke was actually added to one though. Early in the episode, the principal asks over the PA for the person to put Jelly Donuts in the swimming pool to report to the office. Later in the episode, when a couple kids run by Kari, one of them says that they put the Jelly Donuts in the swimming pool.
  • The Lupin III dubs by Geneon would often add in extra lines that weren't in the original Japanese. Used heavily in Lupin III (Red Jacket), specifically. The empty audio was often filled with jokes and references, instead of violations of Show, Don't Tell.
  • The Funimation version of Dragon Ball did this, but you can see where they were coming from as everyone just keeps standing around.
    • In one case during the Android arc, they had Gohan speak during a scene when he wasn't even there.
    • In the first Dragon Ball, during Tenshinhan and Yamcha's tournament fight, roughly 90% of the dub dialog is this.
    • Though oddly, this trope is inverted somewhat by the Japanese insert music being mostly missing from the dub and not replaced, leaving several minutes with no music (though with new dialog added).
  • Similarly, the dub of Transformers Cybertron made the series' gratuitous use of Stock Footage mildly interesting to listen to.
  • Done frequently in the English dub of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, although it is uncertain how much of that counted as Gag Dub.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya has a noticeable example of this in the fourth (chronological) episode.
    • They actually added a line for Kyon in the DVD release. Both audio tracks have it, so it was probably seen as a problem in the original Japanese airing as well.
    • There's actually an inversion as well: A space of dialogue in the original is rendered completely silent in the dub. The fact that the speaker has her back to the viewer helps.
  • Disney's adaptation of Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service is guilty of this, as especially evident near the beginning of the film, when Kiki is running past one of her neighbors. In the English dub, the neighbor calls out "Hello, Kiki," and Kiki responds by yelling, "Hi!" In the original Japanese soundtrack, she simply runs past the neighbor, who turns to watch her pass.
    • Also, in the original, Kiki's cat is a quiet companion. In the dub, he often makes snarky remarks. This frequently changes quiet, contemplative moments into ones of humor.
    • The English dub of Spirited Away is also a little guilty of this, adding background chatter in scenes that originally did not have it, though Chihiro explicitly pointing out the bathhouse was likely to help the audience unfamiliar with one. Ditto with Lin pointing out the Radish Spirit, since he looks like a Japanese radish.
      • This is true in the screencapture manga version as well (both Japanese and English), even adding lines that weren't in the film.
      • Also, the English dub adds a line for Chihiro at the very end of the film; she reassures her parents (and, presumably, the audience) that although she's apprehensive about her new life; "I think I can handle it."
      • More importantly, the most egregious example ("Haku is a dragon?") is not only redundant, it actually messes with the plot. In the original, Chihiro couldn't be certain the dragon actually was Haku until after she risked her life to give him the medicine.
    • Disney's adaptation of Castle in the Sky has lots of extra dialogue, notably in scenes such as the opening attack on the battleship and the chase scene involving Dola's boys. The Japanese version is nearly silent during those scenes.
      • It also features an extensive reworking of Joe Hisaishi's original score (provided by the composer himself) for full orchestra, partially to make it more accessible to audiences uncomfortable with lengthy periods of silence in a movie. However, both Miyazaki and Hisaishi approved the new score. In fact, Hisaishi actually composed the new score himself.
    • Occasionally justified when the camera focuses on notes written in Japanese, and Disney has the voice actors read them aloud in English.
  • It's not done regularly, but the English dub of End of Evangelion takes the scene of a JSSDF soldier firing a flamethrower down a hallway twice and add a line between the two volleys:
    Soldier: Hit 'em again!
    • The director for the dub, Amanda Winn Lee, on the Commentary reveals that the line was added in for her amusement.
  • In the original version of episode 54 of Bleach, Isane responds to her captain Unohana's telling her to pursue Renji by giving a look of silent acknowledgment. In the dub, she thinks, "Right...".
  • Vampire Hunter D. Just... Vampire Hunter D. The English script for the second movie, Bloodlust is probably twice as long as the Japanese.
    • This may be more of a reverse example: while the original was a standard Streamline Pictures dub, take that as you will, Bloodlust was actually originally recorded in English. A lot of the dialogue was taken out when translating to Japanese.
      • This is actually a common misconception. The script existed in Japanese first (simply because the novel it's an adaptation of wasn't yet translated to English at the time), and this was used to animate the movie (as with most anime, animation came before voice recording). This was then adapted to English for the first voice recording. If you look close you can see that all extra dialogue in the English dub happens when the character's mouth can't be seen (or it's an internal monologue).
  • Dead Leaves is a card-carrying offender, and it's part of why people like the dub so much. The added humor fits the movie's tone perfectly, and pushes the movie up a few notches in many peoples' point of view.
    • Example: One scene involves Retro stealing a car. The Japanese audio has no dialogue during this scene; however, the English dub has Retro ask the driver "Hey, have you seen my heliotrope?" before yelling "OUTTA MY RIDE!" and punching the driver in the face. Actually, though, pretty much anything Retro says in Dead Leaves might qualify for lull destruction.
  • The Battle Athletes OVA changed a scene when the new arrivals quietly take in the station so that one character blathered.
  • Tokyopop's dub version of Rave Master. Entirely.
  • Silent Möbius. Late in the run, Roy is killed, in the very bed he and Katsumi, the woman he has just married the night before, had made love in during previous night. Said now-dying character falls backwards in complete silence in the original version. In the dub he lets out a rather forced-sounding groan that was obviously supposed to be at attempt at a death cry.
  • Noticeable in The Nineties North American dub of Sailor Moon— they add their own dialogue into the character's mouths and up until the next cut scene, adding dialogue wherever possible. It makes it feel even more rushed.
    • For instance, an originally silent kiss scene between Usagi/Serena and Mamoru/Darien was dubbed over with Darien making some comment about caramel bubblegum and Usagi responding to an earlier comment with no mouth movement at all, as seen here: [1].
  • Funimation's English dub of Sgt. Frog does this on occasion, filling in lulls in the action with snarky comments from the narrator and/or other goofy jokes.
  • A serial occurrence in Star Blazers, the English dub of Uchuu Senkan Yamato, is for a character to speak when their mouth is obviously not moving.
  • Robotech. The narrator never shuts up. It's a text book example.
  • Mega Man NT Warrior: In the original version, the scene where Mega Man gets deleted had no dialog, and the process occurred slowly, creating a very poignant scene. The dub added the logout voice, which announces "Mega Man, data deleted" with no change in tone from its usual logout message. The animation of the process was also cut short.
  • The dub of Mon Colle Knights has this. One of the instances where it arguably makes use of repeated footage to extend the length of the episode better and worth watching is during the launch sequence for the antagonists' ship is always played Once an Episode... however in the English dub, one of them brings up a logical question, mulls it over for a bit, before being told "Never mind!" by the other two, who become bored, and it becomes a Running Gag.
  • Chirin No Suzu: The Japanese version is relatively silent, with the narrator speaking around four or five times. In contrast, the English version has the narrator speak more than four or five times, and there are more lines and sounds put in there. However, it is not quite as extreme or exaggerated as some examples listed here, and some parts like the rabbit saying "I love clover!" were considered the best parts!
  • Japanese originals are not immune to this - many hentai videos feature the female participant delivering non-stop narration during the sex scenes. Sometimes it's her thoughts, sometimes she's verbally describing exactly what the male partner is doing to her, even though the audience can already see and he should already be aware...
    • This may be a practice for hentai in general, as there's apparently both an audience for having women describe what happens to them (dirty talk, the Japanese words for penis and vagina are among the only words in the entire language to get regularly censored), and Japanese censorship laws can make it difficult to actually discern what's happening (two blurry things colliding together doesn't exactly look like what it should look like.)
  • The English dub of Medabots added a lot of dialogue for Metabee, particularly his infamous "Dude... I rock" line whenever he used the Medaforce or "Time to kiss your 'bot goodbye!" line during a Finishing Move (these scenes were usually silent dialogue-wise in the Japanese audio). This worked because there is no indication when a Medabot is speaking, not even a Talking Lightbulb.
    • The scene late in the first season when Victor goes Laughing Mad. In the Japanese, the scene was nothing but insane laughter. The English dub also had crazy laughing, but added some taunting dialogue from him to Ikki. It helped that his back was to the camera.
  • Serial Experiments Lain completely inverts this trope; there are long moments of silence where dialogue is scarce.
  • The English dub of Ghost in the Shell has background noise added in the boat scene, such as a foghorn sounding as a boat goes by in the background. It somewhat destroys the feeling that the two characters are having a candid moment out of earshot of the rest of the world.

     Comic Books 
  • Timothy Zahn and John Vornholt, at a panel discussion/workshop summarized here, mentioned a version of Lull Destruction that appears in comics. "If you ever wondered why characters bothered to toss insults at each other during a fight, it was because the authors were directed to include words in most panels, even the action sequences. This is because comic books are so short that the publishers don't want the readers skimming through one in five minutes, and words slow the eye more than pictures."
    • It turned out to be a good thing for ol' Spidey, whose constant banter and taunting of foes is now indelibly part of his character to the point that the Movie version caught flack for Spidey's conspicuous silence.

    Film 
  • As the text quote says, the Gag Dub of The Magic Voyage.
  • The Russian adaptation of The Jungle Book suffered from this when imported to the US, ruining several sequences (the Red Dogs, Kaa hypnotizing the monkeys) that were effective precisely because the action was mostly silent.
    • For that matter, compare the adventures of Scamper the Penguin with the original Russian Lolo the Penguin - the dubbed characters insistence on narrating every self-evident bit of action will soon drive you insane.
  • The original vision for The Thief and the Cobbler called for both title characters to be The Voiceless. In the Macekred Miramax version, they will not shut up. The constant voice overs are mainly made up of Captain Obvious lines and hit or miss adlibbing. Not only are they completely unnecessary, but heavily distract from the fantastic animation.
  • The already bad Brazilian Ratatouille rip-off Ratatoing was made worse in the English dub by having silent scenes filled with random grunts and sounds every time a character on-screen made any kind of move.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is a Gag Dub of a played-straight Hong Kong kung fu movie, and has some fun with this:
    "Oh..."
    "We are both ventriloquists, ventriloquists, ventriloquists, we are both ventriloquists and we practice every day!"
    "He carries the baskets!"
    "He carries the paper roll!"
    "And we don't have cysts. But one thing is for sure my friends, we are ventriloquists!"
  • In the versions of Return of the Jedi released from 1983-2004, Darth Vader revealed some remaining inner goodness and saved Luke from Emperor Palpatine in stone silence. However, the 2011 Blu-Ray makes him say, "No!" a few times as Palpatine tortures Luke.
    • The Empire Strikes Back suffered it, but only in the 1997 Special Edition re-release (and only the theatrical version). In every other version, when Luke throws himself off the platform to escape Vader and falls through the bottom of Cloud City, he does so in complete silence. In the 1997 theatrical Special Edition of Empire, as he's falling he screams "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
  • The DVD Commentary for RoboCop (1987) discusses this. The creative team wanted a full 10 seconds of blank screen and silence when Murphy dies, but the executive staff had other ideas.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Seemingly any scene that doesn't include a Brian Adams song is overdubbed with narration explaining everything going on just in case we don't get it.
  • Walt from Gran Torino spends a good deal of time talking to himself, or to his dog. It's actually pretty accurate to the habits of people who live alone.
  • The 1940's re-release of Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush added sound and a narrator to what was originally a silent movie.
  • The English dub of Godzilla Raids Again has many, many issues, but the biggest one (other than changing the name to Gigantis the Fire Monster to disguise the fact that it was a Godzilla movie) was that it filled in almost every second of silence in the original film with narration that wasn't there before. Literally half of the movie is the main character telling us exactly what is going on as it happens in ludicrous and obvious detail, too the point that it feels as if he's reading the stage directions or storyboard notes to us. It gets ever worse when other characters start doing it too.
  • As a foreign example, the German dubbed versions of Louis de Funès comedies tend to fill every bit of silence with more gags by de Funès's character, turning him even more into a Motor Mouth than the original.
  • The original theatrical release of Blade Runner had a voiceover added because the executives were of the opinion that Viewers Are Morons.
  • The film version of Walking with Dinosaurs manages to completely destroy what would have been a fine, beautifully-animated documentary with incredibly annoying and painfully unfunny dialogue lines that were clearly added to the film at the last minute since the lines don't come anywhere close to matching the dinosaurs' mouth movements.
  • Zombi 3D has its moments in the English dub, particularly when the Sweet River Resort is raided.
    Anti-Contamination Squad Leader: Oh, Jesus, look at this... [he and another man look around the room, then open the bathroom door and discover someone impaled onto it] Oh, my God!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Nature documentaries have a tense relationship with this trope. The most interesting example is the DVD of the BBC series Life, which offers a narration-free soundtrack, in case you aren't keen on hearing Oprah Winfrey describing everything that happens onscreen.
  • Many, if not all, of the Power Rangers seasons are guilty of this; in morphed action sequences, the Rangers tend to always spout one-liners while beating up the Mooks, and volley more one-liners with the Monster of the Week; in Super Sentai, the same action sequences tend to actually have little to no dialogue (unless one considers fighting shouts and grunts as dialogue).
  • Many reality TV shows utilize background music and dialogue such that there is literally not a single moment of silence.

    Multiple 
  • Sports broadcasts. Full stops. They have a huge tendency to just constantly describe everything on-screen and spell everything out. Assuming that you weren't paying attention.
    • For that matter, a lot of commentators are like that - it can be a little annoying to watch what's going on at the game when their constant talking just keeps going on and on. Tobi-Wan of DotA 2 is quite terrible at this.
  • A poorly done Let's Play can do this too - especially if the recording quality's poor and you can barely hear what's going on. If it's a silent game, then there's not much, but video games also use sound and video. When you hear someone talking like Speed Racer over the game, it can get a little bit bothersome.

     Stand Up Comedy 

     Video Games 
  • Actually a requirement for official certification for video games on Sony and Microsoft systems. They won't allow game developers any more than half a second of silent, black screen. This is to make sure that users don't think that their console has died.
    • That being said, you can have all the silence you want, as long as you're not showing a black screen.
  • Variation: the original Japanese release of Rockman 6 had silence over the "In the year 200X..." screen, and the music only kicked in once the main intro started. The American release (Mega Man 6) added ride bell-type percussion over said screen, and the intro music itself was replaced with Suspiciously Similar Song to fit.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is well-known for its constant barrage of Captain Obvious comments the characters spout (to no one in particular) in each level. This trope has to be the reason.
    • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has the same problem, as every single action has a line used for it (usually stating the blatantly obvious, at that). Any attempts at humor, meanwhile, tend to fall flat.
  • Performing random actions when the game can't be forced to progress faster (such as during a segment where the screen advances at a fixed pace) is common in Tool Assisted Speed Run videos. Sometimes this works to manipulate the RNG and actually has a purpose, though it is mostly to keep the viewer from being bored.
  • The Gex series has the player character (voiced by Dana Gould) make a joke about the level he's in every 30 seconds or so.
  • The English voice actor for Jansen in Lost Odyssey clearly strove to fill every second of screen time with a wisecrack or three.
  • The Japanese version of the first two Spyro the Dragon games had added voice acting for whenever Spyro jumped or dashed.
    • The cutscenes had a bit of this as well. Compare the Japanese version to the original version to see how much added dialogue there is. For starters, Sparx can talk.
    • The cutscenes that played at the beginning and the end of each level definitely had this.
  • The followers in Diablo III will invoke this by jumping into random conversation every minute or so in the middle of battle, and complaining loudly if you stand still for about half a minute. Some of these talks establish character and plot, but many are reused from act to act.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising utilizes this trope. Instead of having the characters do most of their conversing in cutscenes, like all other games do; the creators decided to have this happen during the gameplay itself. Conversations seem to start up every 20-30 seconds, and can go on for quite awhile.
    • Drakengard 3 does this in a similar vein (albeit there are much more cutscenes), and if main characters aren't talking mooks are.
  • Metroid: Other M has this problem. Samus Aran has this issue where she does a lot of narrating, telling us how she's feeling rather than let the scenes speak for themselves. This is a visual medium, dear, not a novel. Show, Don't Tell.
  • Fighting games in general are like this. The characters have a tendency to speak or make some sort of noise whenever they move or are hit, often times they'll even say something anyway if left alone for long enough, and even after the battle is over most games have the victor say some sort of victory monologue. Virtually all attacks themselves have some kind of sound effect, which you will almost certainly hear a lot given the genre. Between all of that and the ever-present background music, there just isn't much, if any, room for silence or inaction in them.

     Web Original 
  • Friendship is Witchcraft seems to be parodying this. In scenes where Twilight is just walking along, she makes random mouth sounds for no apparent reason.
    • Also parodied by the several background ponies who chatter obnoxiously in crowd scenes for no reason. In one episode, Twilight and Spike pass a dance party, where the ponies are randomly shouting, "Dancin'!" to each other. In another, we fade in on a school classroom, where the students are quietly chanting "Phallic symbol, phallic symbol...."
  • In Game Grumps, Arin admits that he has to actively try to be "on" whenever he's on camera to try and be as entertaining as possible, and that changes his playstyle when it comes to video games. The problem is that sometimes Arin will critically underperform at a game due to not understanding the situation (sometimes being entirely unaware of certain rules or mechanics), which wouldn't be a problem if he simply paused for ten seconds and thought about it.

     Western Animation 
  • Highly visible in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and for some, a major drawback. The extent varies somewhat from episode to episode, but when characters aren't having non-stop conversations, Spider-Man's internal monologue steps in to fill the gap. Always. Ceaselessly. About things we can easily see for ourselves. Can't... breathe... At least some of this is attributed to the shaky production values later in its run, where Stock Footage is used to cover half of the plot relevant gaps and the dialogue has to cover the other half.
    • One canon explains the constant monologuing as Spidey's way of dealing with the insanity of his situation; if he stopped and let himself think about the dangers he's always in, he'd shut down.
    • That's actually a pretty accurate adaption of early Spider-Man's nonstop monologuing in the comics.
  • Actually used to good effect in old Popeye cartoons, where scenes would be punctuated by characters mumbling under their breaths. These mumbles are often very funny.
  • Used quite a bit by The Wombles although to a less annoying effect than other examples. The voice actor generally added in little bits such as "Oh what's that? A bee by the looks of it..." Whenever one of the characters looked away.
  • Hanna-Barbera cartoons have long been notorious for this, among other things. Many a story was dragged down with massive expository dumps by the characters describing exactly what happened, what is happening, and what will happen, on the basis that the kids watching were too dumb to understand it otherwise.
    • That said, kids can actually learn English from them.
  • Mexican cartoon dubbing has a tendency to fill each and every silence present in foreign cartoons. Early seasons of The Simpsons for example would fill in lulls with characters whimpering, humming or yelping unnecessarily.
  • In addition to changing Beast Wars into a wacky comedy series, the Japanese dub also did a lot of this.
  • In Japanese dubs, Tom and Jerry are sometimes given voice actors along with a narrator.
  • Butch Hartman adores this trope. All of his works use it constantly.
    • The Fairly OddParents was arguably the loudest and most hectic cartoon up to that point, featuring near-constant dialogue including Timmy shouting about everything he sees. It only became more and more prevalent as the show went on.
    • T.U.F.F. Puppy manages to be even more loud and hectic than Fairly Oddparents's most lull destruction-filled episodes, almost giving the impression that Hartman was trying to top himself.
    • Even Danny Phantom, the quietest and most toned-down of his works, rarely goes more than a few seconds without some kind of dialogue, loud action, or sudden switch in the background music.
  • The infamous Felix the Cat: The Movie falls victim to this trope, and to the extreme.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has very little silent moments to begin with (generally, if no one's talking or singing there's background music to fill the dead space instead), but many foreign dubs of the show have characters grunt, yelp, or otherwise vocalize where they originally said nothing. An example of this can be seen in the first episode: in the original version, one of the background ponies can be seen waving at Twilight as she runs past. The Italian version dubbed her as saying "Ciao!"

     Real Life 
  • Admit it... you're used to some kind of background noise.
  • As most parents will tell you, they'd much rather they be hearing this than absolute silence — because absolute silence means the kids are doing something bad or are hurt.
  • Animals, even people, want some kind of background noise. If you're ever out in the woods and you have nothing but complete silence—no birds, no bugs, nothing—it's generally an indication that something may be very, very wrong and you will start feeling creeped out. This will even carry over into controlled environments. If there's not even a little white noise in the background, it's going to start getting uncomfortable.
    • Quiet rooms, also called anechoic chambers, are specifically designed to be as quiet as possible. They're used to test sound equipment by removing almost all ambient reverberation. They're so quiet that people start to get paranoid very shortly after entering, and become disoriented and even go crazy after as little as 20 minutes. Part of this is due to the fact that it allows a person inside it to hear their organs working, something that ambient noises normally drown out, and the brain doesn't like it.
  • White Torture uses a lack of this as a means of torture and punishment. Tropes Are Not Bad indeed.


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alternative title(s): Lull Distraction
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