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Mime and Music-Only Cartoon
A lot of cartoons, especially in the classic theatrical shorts era, were made devoid of dialogue. In these cartoons, only music and basic sound effects are used along with the action on screen to convey the concepts and feelings of the show. Sometimes, when more complex things have to be conveyed, it is done via Talking with Signs. The reason, lip sync is tedious, and the jokes used were often adapted from old musical comedy sketches in vaudeville.

This trope is also used in media. Whenever a TV character is watching a cartoon, chances are they'll be watching one of these. Often we never even see the cartoon, just the glow-illumined face of the viewer, and sometimes the side and back of the TV set. If we do get to see the cartoon, it invariably appears to have no plot beyond various characters running back and forth assaulting each other.

For the gaming spins on this, see Pac-Man Fever and Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000. Also compare The Public Domain Channel.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Daft Punk's Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an hour-long anime. The animation is synchronized entirely to the songs in their Discovery album, which sets the scene and mood and even provides some of the sound effects.
  • The shorts that comprise the anthology movie Robot Carnival are all silent, with the exceptions of "Presence" and "A Tale of Two Robots".

    Eastern Animation 
  • The Polish series Dziwne Przygody Koziolka Matolka. Nobody speaks intelligibly; speech is, at best, represented by hollow metal noises.
  • A lot of older Polish animated series, such as Bolek i Lolek or Pomysłowy Dobromir.
  • The Czech series Staflik a Spagetka. There's the crowing crow, but that's all.
  • Nu, Pogodi! is a series of Soviet and Russian cartoons which feature almost no spoken dialogue other than the Catch Phrase that provides the title.
  • The Hungarian series The Rabbit With The Checkered Ears features no spoken dialogue (except the odd unintelligble whisper).
  • In the Romanian series Miaunel and Balanel, "speech" is always rendered with either the title characters' Leitmotif or a synthetic oscillating figure (often with heavier echo than the music), with very occasional exceptions (in one short, both title characters answer their ringing phone with "Alo?"note  only to find no-one at the other end).
  • The characters in The Little Mole only speak in an unintelligible gibberish.

    Films — Animation 

    Literature 
  • Literary pseudo-example: the surreal children's book Tuesday. It's completely devoid of text other than times, yet nevertheless manages to convey a story about frogs suddenly being able to fly for one night.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Recently, whenever there's been a television showing something besides the news on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, they've used clips from Aqua Teen Hunger Force with the basic array of cartoon sound effects instead of the usual music and dialog. Showed up in an episode of The Sopranos, where AJ is seen slacking and watching the show.
  • Shows up in the MST3K episode "Time Chasers," when Crow visits a young version of Mike at a cheese factory's break room where one worker is watching just such a cartoon. As a bonus, the cartoon's dinky music plays over the show's credits at the end.
  • When Dee is visiting her boyfriend in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, they spend the time together watching one of these cartoons with him being exceedingly amused. This is somewhat justified given the episode's name is "Sweet Dee is Dating a Retarded Person."

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Most of Homestuck's non-interactive Flash updates qualify. [S] Descend is really the only exception, what with its Squiddles scene.

    Western Animation 
  • The entire silent age had cartoons like this. Music was provided by piano players in the theater.
  • One Froggy Evening is just such a musical, no-dialog cartoon. Of course, it does have singing, which might be considered "dialogue" of a sort.
  • Chuck Jones was particularly fond of these; other dialogue-free cartoons of his include the Road Runner/Coyote series (unless you count "beep, beep!" as dialogue), the Bugs Bunny entry Baton Bunny, Much Ado About Nutting, Now Hear This! and High Note.
    • Jones often staged 'dialog' scenes where we couldn't hear the speech (often behind glass) but still knew what was going on - see For Scent-imental Reasons, Two Scent's Worth, Beanstalk Bunny.
  • Disney did a number of these in the 1930s. The Old Mill is particularly noteworthy for its melodramatic depiction of a dark and stormy night.
  • Tom and Jerry cartoons for a very long time had no dialogue, either.
    "Don't you believe it!"
    • In an episode of Tom and Jerry Tales we actually see the media version of this trope; Tom is sitting lazily on the couch eating popcorn and watching a generic cat vs mouse cartoon.
  • As an extension, The Simpsons' Show Within a Show Itchy & Scratchy (which is based heavily on Tom and Jerrynote ) also seldom have dialog.
  • All but two of the Pink Panther theatrical shorts from the 1960s and early 1970s were produced in this manner.
  • A modern example is Oggy and the Cockroaches.
  • Pingu. Penguins and seals don't talk, after all.
    • Of course they do. Penguins speak Penguinese, according to the box.
  • Most of the Pixar Shorts. Only "Boundin'" with its rhyming narration, and the shorts spun off the features, have any dialogue.
  • The Hungarian cartoon Leo and Fred.
  • The short film The Snowman only has the spoken introduction and the lyrics to "Walking in the Air".


Idea BulbThe Silent Age of AnimationPie Eyed
Medium Shift GagAnimation TropesMotionless Chin
Meaningful LookSilence TropesMoment of Silence

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