A single episode of a show where characters are usually very talkative is done with everyone being silent, or at least "silent" in the sense that you wouldn't be able understand them if you couldn't see them.
Emotion and narration is done with overdone gesticulations, punctuated music, literal Sign Language
, figurative sign language
or rebuses. This makes it more likely to show up in an animated series, since attempting it seriously with live action is difficult without making it feel
"cartoony" anyway, desired or not.
There tends to be more Mickey Mousing
than usual, because going completely without sound is boring and creepy.
Contrast to Lull Destruction
. Subtrope of Silence Is Golden
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Anime & Manga
- The Ah! My Goddess spin-off The Adventures of Mini-Goddess has an episode with Urd going out on a rainy day.
- Chapter 166 in Mahou Sensei Negima!, focusing on Okochi Akira, an unusually quiet student, is done entirely without dialogue. Even when characters speak to each other, only pictures or one or two words are shown in the speech bubbles. Lampshaded by Chachazero holding a sign reading "This chapter is brought to you in near silence."
- Lampshaded in Bakuman。: Niizuma Eiji writes a chapter of his manga with no words, only pictures and sound effects. The editors remark at how dangerous doing something like that is for ratings, but it ends up successful.
- The first episode of Texhnolyze comes close, but it does have a few lines of dialogue towards the end.
- Episode 9 of Mitsudomoe dedicates one of its segments to this trope. Other than a few lines of Angrish from Mitsuba, everything else is conveyed non-verbally.
- The third short of Shinryaku! Ika Musume's fifth episode is done almost entirely without dialogue. A few "geso"s from Ika, a single line of narration and a brief exchange between Eiko and Sanae are all the speaking parts it has.
- Happens again in episode 6.3 of Season 2.
- The Muteki Kanban Musume manga has a chapter nearly devoid of dialogue. It also features one of the greatest rage faces in history after a blackbird steals a bit of Miki's lunch, after which, Hilarity Ensues.
- Nichijou has one of these, in a sequence involving the exceptionally stressful final moments in the completion and subsequent destruction of a card tower.
- Chapter 89 of the original Lupin III manga series went entirely without dialogue until the final page (possibly as a homage to cartoons like Tom and Jerry, which the author admits to being a fan of). The sequel series also did it, but in a much more serious way.
- Chapter 299 of Fairy Tail is a dialogue-less chapter showing Gildarts on one leg of one of his many long trips of Walking the Earth while the main cast are in the middle of a Tournament Arc. Finding a village endangered by a monster, saving it, then accidentally destroying it—all with no words.
- Chapter 599 of the Naruto manga is almost entirely a silent flashback to the early life of "Tobi", after we finally learn who he really is. There's one line of dialogue at the very end, spoken by a thunderstruck Kakashi in the present day.
- The entirety of Interstella 5555, considering the movie is a single, hour-long Animated Music Video, talking would get in the way of the music.
- The G.I. Joe comic book actually had entirely silent issues, where stories were told without dialogue, captions or even sound effects. They tended to feature Snake-Eyes and/or Storm Shadow.
- The G.I. Joe example is also the Trope Codifier - the issue, #21 of the Marvel run "The Silent Interlude" was done as a gimmick Larry Hama wanted to do for some time.
- Issue #85, "SFX", had no dialogue but included the appropriate onomatopoeia.
- Issue #21 of the Devil's Due series repeated the silent theme.
- Before the below "'Nuff Said Month", Deadpool had a (mostly) silent issue where Deadpool is rendered deaf because of a sonic weapon by Humbug. Constrictor fixed the problem in the end.
- Marvel Comics used this gimmick in every single comic they published cover-dated February 2002, calling it "'Nuff Said Month". As well, around the time of 9/11, Marvel had most of its comics, for the most part, silent issues, with no dialogue or little.
- The Uncanny X-Men issue of that month contains a silent depiction of Banshee's scream destroying the Blob. New X-Men featured Jean Grey and Emma Frost entering Charles Xavier's mind for a "psychic rescue." And Wolverine's issue featured an extended silent three-way fight between himself, Sabretooth and the Villain Of The Week.
- Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #38 arguably had the most appropriate plot - Spider-Man fighting a gang of criminal mimes.
- Ironically, the Amazing Spider-Man edition of the gimmick month had to be delayed one month because of 9/11 (Marvel used issue #36 to remember 9/11 and its 'Nuff Said issue occurred in #39)
- One Sin City short story titled, appropriately enough, "Silent Night". There's just one line spoken at the end.
- Ultimate Spider-Man #133.
- Used in, of all things, an issue of Deadpool when Deadpool goes temporarily deaf.
- An issue of Batman in which Batman is believed to be dead contains only two words near the end.
- The 2000 AD series Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales is a series of one-off strips, all of which have no dialogue at all. Byrne, the artist, came up with the idea when he got annoyed by letterers sticking speech bubbles all over his art.
- From the same artist, Mister Amperduke is an entire Graphic Novel in which the closest thing we get to dialogue is the odd semiquaver to indicate a character whistling.
- Issue #28 of The Powerpuff Girls (DC Comics) had a story—"Princess For A Day" (involving their school adversary Princess Morbucks) which had no dialogue, save for a two-word balloon just before the climax of the story.
- The Doctor Who Magazine strip "Onomatopoeia" has no dialogue until the final two pages, relying instead on sound effects alone.
- Alpha Flight had a dialogue-less section after James Hudson's death. Proved to be a nightmare of his widow.
- Calvin and Hobbes frequently had strips with no dialogue, relying on the characters' gestures and shown emotions to convey the story.
- Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson were working on a one-shot follow-up to their classic Manhunter run; when Goodwin died, Simonson reworked the idea into a silent story rather than write dialogue in Goodwin's place.
- New 52: Issue #18 of Batman and Robin is entirely silent because it deals with the aftermath of Damian Wayne's death.
- One bizarre retroactive application of this trope is with regards to silent movies. With the coming of DVD, it has become common for old silent film shorts, especially those that have fallen into public domain, to appear on budget-line VHS and DVD compilations. Especially with regards to "series" such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy films, it's common to see these referenced on these releases as "episodes".
- Silent Movie: Made in 1976, with one word of spoken dialogue in the whole movie spoken by world-famous mime Marcel Marceau!. It is especially notable because it is a Mel Brooks film, who likes to add song and dance numbers to his movies.
- The Pixar film WALL•E has basically no dialogue for the first third or so of the film, with the characters consisting solely of Wall-E and Eve, who say nothing more than their names and "directive". This is no longer the case when they arrive on the Axiom, though, since the humans there do a lot of talking.
- The cliff-face sword fight in G.I. Joe: Retaliation specifically lacks dialogue, sound effects and music to homage the silent issue.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Hush", which was nominated for an Emmy. It featured demons rendering everyone in the town mute, because a real human voice was the only thing that could kill them. More than half of the episode had no dialogue, yet they still managed Buffy Speak during the silent part.
- Space: Above and Beyond: "Who Monitors the Birds?"
- In one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, Justin and Harper become good friends due to their shared appreciation of silent movies (which Alex hates). After Alex messes up their friendship, they get back at her by turning the world into a silent movie, treating the audience to a few minutes of Deliberately Monochrome and Silence Is Golden.
- In The Twilight Zone's "The Invaders," there is only one line of dialogue apart from Rod Serling's opening/closing narration and it's not spoken by the show's only human cast member Agnes Moorehead - who on reading the script asked where her part was - but by episode director Douglas Heyes as the voice of the Earth astronaut whose ship is being destroyed by the giant played by Miss Moorehead.
- Nearly the first half of The Prisoner episode "Many Happy Returns" plays out without a single line of intelligible dialogue (there are a couple of lines spoken in an unknown foreign language, but more in the background of a scene).
- The Frasier episode "Three Valentines" features an act made up entirely of Niles preparing for a date, with his obsessing over fixing a loose thread on his pants ultimately wrecking the apartment, all while saying nothing besides gasps and grunts after a brief phone conversation at the start.
- Two Guys and a Girl had "The One Without Dialogue" where we track the characters dealing with physical tasks that don't require any dialogue (except for a dream sequence dance scene)- Johnny needs to fix a toilet, Sharon needs to rescue her wedding ring, Pete chases after a woman on the subway etc. All the jokes come from their struggles with physical objects rather than dialogue.
- The 77 Sunset Strip episode "The Silent Caper" (one of several episodes written by series co-star Roger Smith) is not only an hour show with no dialogue but predates all of the above. (Yes, including "The Invaders.")
- CSI NY "Unspoken", as its name implies, went half the episode with no dialogue, just Green Day music.
- A variation in "Uprising", a second season episode of Switched at Birth: All of the episode's dialogue is in Sign Language.
- The episode eases the audience into it: The first scene's dialogue is signed and spoken, the second scene is only signed, but keeps the ambient noise of the actors' movement and breathing. After that, the soundtrack goes entirely mute except for incidental music.
- Community had an episode where the study group members glance around at each other awkwardly for the entire opening scene. The background music builds up to make it seem like there's about to be a punchline, only to have it immediately cut to the show's opening sequence. Apparently, the silence had been lasting for a long time until the Dean broke it.
- "The Incredible Jewel Robbery," an episode of General Electric Theater in 1959, only had one line of dialogue. After Chico & Harpo Marx get caught trying to pull off the eponymous robbery, they get put in a Police Lineup and...are not identified as the theives. Instead their uncredited note brother Groucho is fingered, who then utters the only line in the teleplay: "We won't talk until we see our lawyer." It was the last time the three brothers appeared together professionally.
- The Inside No. 9 episode "A Quiet Night In" contains no dialogue apart from one line spoken at the episode's conclusion.
- A segment on the February 21th 2011 episode of Raw, was done without a word of dialogue. The Undertaker made a return after a long absence. His music played. The crowd cheered loudly. Before he could do or say anything, Triple H made a surprise return after an even longer absence. The crowd went nuts. The two of them stared each other down, and then turn to look at the WrestleMania logo. The crowd exploded. More staredown, dueling chants, dueling taunts, not a word spoken.
- On the September 10th 2012 episode of Monday Night RAW, following Jerry Lawler's heart attack, segments that followed, including the matches, had no commentary, out of respect for Lawler. The only commentary was Michael Cole giving updates on Lawler's condition.
- Alien Hominid manages to tell a somewhat simple, but funny story with absolutely no dialogue. (Unless screaming counts)
- Another World
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Machinarium has the characters communicating primarily with thought bubbles showing what they mean. Nobody ever actually says anything, and the only text you ever see in the game are the game menus and the few tutorial tips at the very beginning.
- Metroid Prime
- Journey, not counting the chirping noises that you or the strangers you meet can make.
- The Subspace Emissary in Super Smash Bros. Brawl has little to no dialogue, even talkative folks like Snake and Sonic don't utter a word of line.
- The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Good Son is a variant where all of the Critic's lines are done through cue cards and subtitles accentuated by music and stock noise (including a stock Evil Laugh) because
Doug lost his voice he spent too much time yelling at it before reviewing it proper. The film clips do keep their dialogue, though.
- The Season 2 finale of The Other Side is just one long fight scene set to Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation". The flashback at the end, however, has dialogue.