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.
- Done once again in chapter 417, also featuring Gildarts though with Natsu tagging along for a bit before moving on. Oh, Happy was also there.
- 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.
- Several chapters of the Gag Manga Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku dedicate to Jin and Fuguo's adventures having no speech bubbles.
- 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 had a most appropriate plot for this trope: 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.
- DJ Pon-3's My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks animated short, "Music to My Ears", has exactly one line, "What can I getcha?", spoken by Mrs. Cake.
- The first 20 minutes of the Charles Bronson film about a professional hit man, The Mechanic, has no dialog at all, as we watch the killer setting up the victim's room to make his assassination look like an accident.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Hush", which was nominated for an Emmy. Demons render everyone in the town mute, because a real human voice is the only thing that can kill them. More than half of the episode has no dialogue, yet the characters still engage in 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.
- The Twilight Zone's "The Invaders," has 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. A couple of lines are 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, goes for 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 silent except for incidental music.
- Community has 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 has been in progress for a long time before the Dean breaks it.
- "The Incredible Jewel Robbery," an episode of General Electric Theater in 1959, only has 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 thieves. 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.
- In LOST, the first season's final episode, Exodus, Part 2 features no dialogue in its entire final act, bringing the musical score to the foreground instead. The last word spoken by any character in this episode is Michael screaming "Walt!" immediately before the last act break. This creates a book end of sorts, as this was also the first line of dialogue heard a few minutes into the pilot episode.
- 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 turned 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.
- Dexter's Laboratory:
- The episode "Dim" has Dexter replacing a burnt out lightbulb in his lab, with no dialogue until the last 3 seconds.
Dee Dee: You know, They are going to burn out eventually.
Dexter: I know.
- Several shorts are dialogue-less, such as the one where Dad goes golfing...or tries to.
- Tiny Toon Adventures:
- An episode parodies the Fantasia short "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", with Buster as the "apprentice" and Bugs as the "sorcerer". The only line of dialog occurs at the very end
- A silent short called "Sound Off" in black-and-white 1920s style animation, complete with screen-filling cards containing text of any dialogue that would have been spoken had it been done normally. The story is framed as a history class at Acme Looniversity.
- The short "The Kite," one of the most atypical segments of the show, is also dialogue-free.
- In the episode "C Flat or B Sharp", the only dialogue is near the beginning, when Yosemite Sam gives Buster, Plucky, and Hamton instructions on moving the piano.
- Kids Next Door episode "Operation: THE-FLY". In this case, characters are shown to still be talking, but all of their voices and sound effects are muted, leaving the soundtrack as the only thing the audience hears.
- The Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi episode "Ikkakujuu".
- Samurai Jack was famous for doing this (and doing it very well) for dramatic effect in most action sequences. The cartoon is almost a no dialogue series considering how many times it happened. Jack himself has no dialogue in a few episodes. Particularly notable is "The Four Seasons of Death", where only one character in one segment has any lines at all.
- Star Wars: Clone Wars but it comes easier as each episode is only about 4 minutes.
- The Fairly OddParents, "Pipe Down": A few minutes in, Timmy wishes for the town to be silent, thus pushing the episode into this category until the end, where he has to wish for sound to return so that he can make a wish to stop a meteor in collision course with the Earth.
- Another partial No Dialogue Episode is "Powerprof" in The Powerpuff Girls: Aside from the opening narration, the rest of the opening segment is dialog-free. The other segments have dialog as normal. The episode "Silent Treatment" (which has the girls plopped into a silent movie) effects this, even if dialogue cards are used.
- "Buttercrush" is also a partial example; the episode focuses on Buttercup having a massive crush on Ace from the Gangrene Gang. While all the other characters speak, the main focus of the episode, Buttercup, never says a word. Until the end, that is, at which point she apologizes to her sisters for letting her crush go to her head.
- The Angry Beavers episode "Silent But Deadly" has the beavers stuck in their house surrounded by sleeping wolverines. The entire episode is largely silent (except with music) due to the brothers attempting to escape without waking the predators up. A pseudovariation occured in a later episode in which the brothers had a competition to not talk. (They solved this by carting around giant tape players with tapes that had words on them so they could communicate. Yes, it's that kind of show.)
- The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Fatal Contraption", in which Rocko buys a living food processor, features no dialogue except for an announcer saying "Buy this! Food-O-Matic 2000!"
- SpongeBob SquarePants mini-episode "Reef Blower" contains no dialogue at all, except "You!" which was not heard, only appearing in subtitle on the bottom of the screen. This was because the studio's audio equipment wasn't working properly, so they had to improvise.
- The Bugs Bunny short Baton Bunny in which he plays a conductor is his only cartoon with no dialogue. The early short Rhapsody Rabbit was mostly silent; Bugs had only three lines:
"Look, one hand! No hands!"
- The Leonardo segment of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "The Shredder Strikes Back, Pt. 1" is done in this manner; it's not immediately noticeable, however, since the characters do continue to grunt and do battle noises. The comic book issue this episode was based on, Leonardo #1, also used the technique.
- Two Stupid Dogs had an episode that was not only silent but was drawn in a style similar to old silent cartoons and was in black and white.
- Hanna-Barbera actually had a continuous series with no talking. "Blastoff Buzzard" was a Road Runner-esque segment of their 1977 show The CB Bears.
- The Animaniacs episode "Ragmuffins" features the Warner siblings getting jobs as chefs in a bakery. The episode is in black and white and done in the style of a 1920s cartoon.
- Pinky and the Brain:
- "The Brain's Apprentice", in a parody of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, features Brain building a robot but Pinky shuts it down. When he activates it, he accidentally creates thousands of clones that almost do succeed in taking over the world, but Brain interferes and only at the last minute does he realize What Could Have Been. The cartoon contains no dialogue except for the garbled gibberish spoken by a news reporter.
- "Toy Shop Terror" and "Babblin' Bijou" both contain no dialogue except for one line from Yakko at the end.
- An episode of CatDog is styled as a black-and-white silent movie, due to simultaneous epidemics of color-blindness and laryngitis.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Both "Appa's Lost Days" and "The Tale of Momo" segment of "Tales of Ba Sing Se". However there is some spoken dialogue, although they are few and far between, and most of the vocal sounds are coming from the animal stars of the episode.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Tri-Stone Area": the characters speak solely in minimally-intelligible "cave talk", with occasional cutaways to photo-animation of the creators explaining what's going on, in case anyone isn't following. (Ironically, these are the only words spoken during the episode.)
- The DVD for Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman included "Chase Me", a no-dialogue short featuring Batman pursuing Catwoman.
- A couple episodes of TazMania such as "Taz and the Pterodactyl" and the first half of "The Dog The Turtle Story" contain no dialogue except for Taz's gibbering.
- The Adventure Time episode Thank You... sort of. There's some exchanges between Finn, Jake and the Ice King happening in the background, but none of the characters who are the central focus of the episode speak.
- Another partial example from Moral Orel: the episode "Alone" is focused on three separate characters (Nurse Bendy, Miss Censordoll and Miss Sculptham). The latter does not speak words (although still grunts, sighs, etc.) during her scenes, but has the radio playing. The fact this episode reveals some new info about her adds to its shock value.
- Wat's Pig, for the most part. The characters make noises (such as growls, screams, and sighs) but the only spoken words in the short are "Me?" repeated twice as an Ironic Echo.
- Two 'Private Snafu shorts contained almost no dialogue, in "Pay Day" we follow Snafu deciding what to do with his money once he gets paid with two demons tempting him to spend it foolishly, the cartoon ends with him broke and homeless and the only spoken dialogue occurs when a mouse tells his landlord "Snafu doesn't live here anymore".
- And "Operation Snafu" in which Snafu infiltrates a Japanese military base to steal some important documents, the only spoken dialogue is the gibberish the officers yell when they chase him.