When an important character dies, one way to ramp up the emotion is to cut all dialogue and sound effects, adding complete silence to the scene for perhaps ten seconds. Sad music, often with female vocalization
, will usually be played to highlight the effect, but all other sound is cut out. Some extreme cases will eliminate even the music, leaving nothing but the video. Expect the visuals to consist mainly of other characters' reactions to the death, especially lots of screaming the dead character's name (silently), and general crying. Also expect the visuals to be in Slow Motion
much of the time.
And, of course, there's also the literal moment of silence shown out of respect for the dead, but that's more about plot than cinematics.
See also: Silent Credits
For in-universe moments of silence observed in memory of a deceased character, see Due to the Dead
Beware of spoilers. Spoiler tags are used in some but not all cases.
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Anime & Manga
- Kittan gets a short one in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- Kamina gets this as well. At the end of the episode, the only animation and sound effects added to the still frames are the rain falling.
- End of Evangelion has this trope at the end of part 1, when Shinji finally decides to enter the battle... only to find that he's too late.
- A variant is found in the final episode of the School Days anime. Makoto reads a text message that consists only of lots of blank lines and he scolls down to the end where it just says "Goodbye", and all sound stops for a three second close up of the single word. Then the tragic music pics up and he is stabbed to death from behind.
- Played with at the end of Code Geass. The climax alternates between the reactions of different characters to Lelouch's imminent death and a flashback of Lelouch and Suzaku explaining the entire thing.
- Agent Coulson's death in The Avengers.
- Gandalf's death in The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Sirius's death in Order of the Phoenix.
- Frigga's death in Thor: The Dark World.
- A minor subversion in I Am Sam, where Sam admits that he is not good enough to raise Lucy alone after the Prosecution berates him into this position. The trope is put into play when Sam is forced to let Lucy go and the only sound is sad music in the background.
- Road to Perdition's Battle in the Rain, with muted sound effects and no dialogue until the final confrontation. Then an understated "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner, and a jarringly loud burst of gunfire.
- Angie's death in Mirrors.
- In The Quick and the Dead, though it's not immediately after the death of the Kid, a full minute goes by without background music, dialogue, or cheering, before the duel between Cort and the Lady.
- In The Dark Knight Saga:
- In The Dark Knight:
- After the bombs go off and the Joker escapes at the end of the second act.
- And then again when Harvey finds his coin and figures out what happened.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, when the cops are heading down into the tunnels and are about to be trapped when Bane sets off the explosives. The vocalization is provided by a boy singing the National Anthem at the football stadium.
- When the chase scene in London in Skyfall nears its end.
Live Action TV
- The death of Buffy's mum, Joyce in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the entire episode had very little dialogue and was the only episode in the entire series to contain no music, and so probably qualifies.
- A similar example in the episode Passion; when the main characters receive a phone call informing them of Jenny Calendar's death, they're being filmed from outside the house. Their reactions are inaudible but unmistakable.
- The death of Henry Blake in season three of M*A*S*H. There's a slow panning shot of everyone looking horrified and saddened after The Reveal.
- In NCIS: Los Angeles, we get one of these following Dom's death.
- The death of Adric at the end of the Doctor Who episode "Earthshock". Not only was there no sound, instead of the usual closing credits there was just a closeup of Adric's broken badge.
- Done in the new series to great effect at the end of "The Pandorica Opens", when the Doctor is put inside the Pandorica, followed by the entirety of reality being subjected to Ret Gone by the explosion of the TARDIS.
- And for the last few seconds of the episode, silence falls.
- When major charaters die on 24 sometimes they go to commercial without the second-indicating beeps. Edgar Styles and George Mason are the only two who come to mind.
- At the end of the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, when they finally go over the top in no man's land there are no closing titles and the usual theme tune is replaced by a slow piano version and gunshot sound effects, finishing with three strong bass-drum notes as the scene fades to a poppy field.
- The Blackadder ending came about almost by accident. They'd originally intended to show everybody falling, but it looked fake. Then they came up with the idea of slowing down the action and dissolving to a poppy field... and suddenly there wasn't a dry eye in the country.
- When recurring character Mrs Fyvie dies in Getting On.
- When Auggie sees the terrorist plant a bomb near his comrades in Covert Affairs
- Sherlock: Immediately after Sherlock's faked suicide, the sound turns completely off, returning in a slow and fragmented manner to indicate John's extreme shock.
- The musical Allegro has a silent scene (music but no dialogue or singing) following the death of Joe's mother as Joe, his friend and his father react to the sad news.
- In the end of the British campaign in Company of Heroes, there are close shots of the aftermath of the battle of Caen, accompanied by celtic singing with strings and bagpipes.
- At the end of the penultimate chapter of Journey, it slowly turns very silent as your own life fades away.
- In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," this is the reaction to Superman's apparent death. He's not actually dead, but none of the onlookers know that.