Pictorial Speech Bubble

Gil Wulfenbach: Your orders are simple: Kill anyone who enters, except Dr. Sun and myself.
Bangaladesh DuPree (with jaw wired shut): ((Man/Woman/Child?))


A picture is worth a thousand words, and some Speech Bubbles do, in fact, contain just this: a picture.

Pictorial Speech Bubbles are generally used in two ways. First, to show the general gist of what the character is saying, without focusing on what their exact words are. Second, to represent the character's general mood, attitude or thoughts, even when he isn't specifically saying anything. It's not always easy to tell the two variations apart.

Rebus Bubble and Symbol Swearing are subtropes. Compare also Speaking in Panels.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Davie.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure: It's a common occurrence in Part 7:Steel Ball Run to have images peppered in character's speech bubbles, but is played completely straight in one panel where Gyro speaks and says nothing other an image of Diego Brando's head.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Video Games 
  • In Theme Park, kids have this kind of bubbles hovering over their heads to show how they feel about your park or what is bothering them.
  • The Sims talk in these.
  • Web Game But That Was Yesterday. All of the characters who communicate in the game use this technique. For example, when someone wants to tell another character to "get up" or "jump", their speech bubble holds an up arrow.
  • In Jumper Three, Ogmo and the planet's natives communicate with each other using speech bubbles with pictures in them.
  • In Dubloon, when Russel saves Ricky without saving his owner Riley first, Ricky will ask where Riley is with a speech bubble depicting his head, to which Russel replies with speech bubble showing a shaking head.
  • The Prehistoric chapter of Live A Live has everyone talk this way, since spoken language doesn't exist yet.

    Web Comics 

    Web Animation 
  • The storytelling in Happy Tree Friends is usually limited to Speaking Simlish and actions, but this is still used on rare occasions. In "Doggone It", for example, Lumpy figuring out that the sound of a whistle is what makes Whistle go crazy is represented by him literally connecting the dots into one in a thought bubble.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Family Guy, when Lois revealed that her wealthy father offered them a million dollars after she and Peter were newly married, but she turned it down because "they could make their own way", Peter has a thought bubble containing an animation that showed him killing Lois rather violently.
  • In Tiny Planets, the Simlish-Speaking protagonists occasionally produce pictorial thought bubbles — which appear to be visible to other people. In "Spring Cleaning", Bong has an idea and, after failing to explain it with Simlish and hand gestures, produces a pictorial thought bubble which Bing examines and nods thoughtfully.