Art Spiegelman: Samuel Beckett once said: "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness".Though some people have difficulty imagining movies without spoken dialogue, the first few decades of film did extremely well without it, to the point that many filmmakers dismissed talkies as a gimmicky passing fad or a perversion of real cinema. To be honest, they initially had a point considering that film sound recording techniques were very crude in the beginning, making for some really stiffly staged and dull films until the combined talents of artists and technicians solved the problems. Regardless, perhaps it isn't such a shock to learn that, long after the end of the silent film era, many filmmakers and writers still think that silence is, well, golden. Although, it should be noted that silent films were never actually silent, they were always accompanied with live music in theatres and this music scored every scene and emotional point of the film, often against the director's intentions for a patch of sound-free action (no dialogue or no music and effects). Josef von Sternberg, director of silent classics and a great deal of important sound films, noted that it was only with sound that he was able to put long stretches into his films without dialogue and music. The real reason directors and other technicians were hesitant to try sound, aside from an instinctive refusal to change their routine, is the fact that the arrival of sound led to film craftsmanship taking a step back. By the end of the silent era, films like Sunrise and The Crowd as well as comedies by Buster Keaton showed amazing technical facility in cutting, editing, and camera techniques, benefiting greatly from the lightweight cameras that prevailed at the end of the '20s. The arrival of sound and theater talent as well as the primitive recording equipment led many early films to be what Alfred Hitchcock once dismissed as "pictures of people talking" or filmed theatre with little in way of inventive camera techniques or creative lighting used to tell a story cinematically. Sound equipment also led to heavier cameras which made it harder, for some time, to achieve the Tracking Shot and other impressive technical feats. Though, many film-makers adapted quickly and worked hard to achieve solutions. Moreover, if the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is to be believed, shouldn't a whole series of pictures be able to speak for themselves? Nowadays, however, in the presence of so many audible (or legible) artworks, silence has become an innovation itself, often used to stimulate the viewer's imagination or add a vaguely brooding "cinematic" tone to the work. In television and films, running something "silent" usually means removing most or all of the dialogue, leaving just the music and/or sound effects; a few pieces remove even these. Some comics are likewise run completely silent with no dialogue, captions, or sound effects; in extreme cases, they may not even include any written words (e.g., if someone hands a character a note to read, we're not shown what it says). Others selectively cut the dialogue and/or captions while leaving sound effects present in order to have them tell the story. Sister Trope of Deliberately Monochrome. Frequently used in surrealist films, and is sometimes combined with filmmaking techniques from the silent era for Retraux effect. Dialogue-free episodes are a popular form of Something Completely Different. Sometimes leads to Lull Destruction in adaptations. When used for horror, it overlaps with Nothing Is Scarier. When used temporarily to add poignancy to a dramatic scene, it's a Moment of Silence. See also Mime and Music-Only Cartoon for animated works that feature little or no spoken dialogue. Contrast Dead Air, for situations where silence is absolutely not to be desired.
Art Spiegelman: On the other hand, he SAID it.
Art Spiegelman: On the other hand, he SAID it.
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- When television advertisements are usually painfully loud, silence can be used very effectively. For an extremely obscure example, a local advertisement for a used car lot is completely silent for the whole thirty seconds it's on.
- One ad for Kotex was completely silent to show how quiet their new maxi pads are. It even lampshades it at the end with "Now back to your noisy commercial.".
- An ad for Trojan condoms showed, in slow motion and complete silence, a crossbow bolt crossing the screen in front of a black background, then hitting a shield emblazoned with the Trojan logo. The bolt falls to the ground. A line of text appears. No music, no sound, nothing.
Anime & Manga
- Tsutomu Nihei owns the silence the way Oh! Great owns Ecchi.
- Mamoru Oshii's Angel's Egg has less than a page of spoken dialogue, most of which is in one scene.
- The two Ghost in the Shell movies, also by Oshii, have very few dialog as well. Most fight scenes don't have any spoken lines at all and instead show in great detail what the characters are doing and seeing, leaving it to the audience to assume what they might be thinking.
- The surreal short film Cat Soup has no dialogue whatsoever.
- Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, set to the songs of the Daft Punk album Discovery, has no need for dialogue either (other than the song lyrics and a brief introduction by Leiji Matsumoto). Even the sound effects are minimal.
- Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou actually needs a very high silence-to-dialog ratio to achieve its mellow, contemplative tone.
- The first episode of Texhnolyze has approximately ten lines of dialogue, all in a couple of scenes coming near the end of the episode after 11 minutes of near-silence. While the rest of the series is more talkative, it's not uncommon to have several minutes without spoken dialogue in many episodes. The main protagonist Ichise is an extremely quiet man, who often lets others, including Ran, a girl only slightly less silent than him talk in his stead.
- Only two segments in Robot Carnival featured any dialogue. And it even had a Shonen and Shoujo segment that managed to be completely coherent despite this.
- Gon, fitting of a series staring a not-very-anthropomorphic dinosaur, has no dialogue.
- Petit Eva has no dialogue whatsoever.
- In AKIRA, the gigantic explosion at the end makes no noise, only having organ music playing over it (soft vocals in the American dub).
- Impressively featured in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of particular note is the infamous scene in episode 24 that is nothing but one frame held for a minute and a half with Beethoven playing over it.
- Koichi Mashimo and Bee Train are fond of long pauses without any dialogue but with lots of facial close-ups and background music by Yuki Kajiura. This is particularly prominent in the older series, e.g. Noir, .hack//SIGN, and Madlax.
- Used to utterly hilarious effect in Nichijou, such as the scene where Yuko is trying to build a tower of cards without people knocking it over.
- Cowboy Bebop has a lot of long stretches with little to no dialogue, preferring to let the visuals and soundtrack do the talking. A memorable sequence depicts a villain's origin using nothing but sparse electronic music, cold and sterile colors, and shots without much movement, making a remarkable (and terrifying) contrast to the rest of the show's colorful and jazzy style.
- Princess Mononoke has a lot of scenes where either the music is the only sound, or there's no speech or score at all. And they work so well that even Disney, infamous for using Lull Destruction in its dubs, kept the scenes intact.
- Serial Experiments Lain is another series that makes pretty good use of this trope. While no episode uses it quite to the same extent as the first episode of Texhnolyze, which was also made by Yoshitoshi ABe, throughout its 13-episode run, there are at least several points where they go up to several minutes with little to no dialogue. This includes montages of Lain simply walking to school or around her house, and to increase the effect, the former are only accompanied by the sound of humming power lines.
- The Fairy Tail manga has two chapters, "Lone Journey" and its sequel "Lone Journey II", which are both vignettes that 1.) focus on Gildarts during his journey across Earth-land, and 2.) are completely devoid of dialogue bubbles. The Movie also has a long stretch of silence where Natsu and his friends take a leisurely tour through a new city, and two others in the anime where the team travels to Warrod's house before and after completing a mission, focusing mostly on wide landscape shots.
- Joshi Kausei or Jyoshikausei is your typical moe schoolgirl manga series. But with no dialogue!
- The 2009 stop-motion series "Komaneko: The Curious Cat" has no dialogue at all besides a few grunts and a few characters calling there names. But is mostly silent.
- A 2013 Batman comic book was like this to portray the grief of Bruce Wayne over his son and then Robin; Damien Wayne's death.
- Jeff Smith's Bone comics will often go many pages without any spoken dialogue.
- Frank by Jim Woodring; not a word spoken by any of the characters. His graphic novel Weathercraft has copyright information on the dust jacket. The physical book itself contains no words at all.
- Age of Reptiles contains not a single word. Given that it's set in the Mesozoic and the characters are all dinosaurs, the lack of speech is unsurprising, but there are no sound effects or narration, either.
- Mister Amperduke was created deliberately as a comic with absolutely no Speech Bubbles at all, partly because the creator didn't like his artwork being broken by speech bubbles in other comics.
- Marvel Comics
- A "'Nuff Said" promotion in which several of their trademark titles were released with stories that involved no spoken dialog, and no text boxes, whatsoever.
- Marvel Comics has also done a number of issues this way over the years, including an earlier G.I. Joe comic which inspired the "'Nuff Said" promotion.
- In one Silver Age Daredevil comic featuring the brilliant artwork of Gene "The Dean of Light and Darkness" Colan, Stan Lee lampshaded this trope with a brief caption at the start praising the artist and stating that sometimes (as in this case) "superfluous words" were unnecessary, and therefore he was going to let the rest of the comic speak for itself.
- Most of Hawkeye #2 (1983) plays out not only without any dialogue but without any sound effects at all, due to the power of the assassin known as The Silencer to perfectly mute all sound.
- Probably Marvel's earliest exploration of the technique was a Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD story by Jim Steranko. Steranko does a complicated battle scene without any dialog or sound effects. His editor at the time threatened to dock his pay for the issue since obviously he couldn't get paid for writing a sequence without words!
- Sergio Aragonés is a master of this trope, having drawn numerous wordless pieces for MAD. In some cases, he even draws Speech Bubbles with pictures in them.
- Fellow MAD alum Antonio Prohías also did this just as a matter of style. While his most well-known series, Spy vs. Spy, is almost completely devoid of sound effects (save for explosions, gunshots, and the odd esoteric animal noise), looking back shows that all of his comics had a dialogue volume ranging from very little to none whatsoever.
- Boerke (roughly translates as: little farmer) is a Belgian comic by Pieter De Poortere that almost never has the characters speak. On the rare occasions that something is said, it's in symbols/drawings never in words. For example, the 60 pages comic book 'the son of' has a fairly complicated plot and has in total two whistling bubbles, two talk bubbles and one thinking bubble. Both speech bubble have the face of one of the characters in them and nothing else. The thinking balloon has an image of an A-Bomb.
- V for Vendetta has a four-page chapter, "Vincent." with no dialogue.
- Watchmen has no visual sound effects and several long stretches without any dialogue either.
- Comix 2000, published by L'Association in 1999. Two thousand pages, not a single word.
- Anything by Shaun Tan, particularly The Arrival. This is helped out by LOTS and LOTS of Scenery Porn.
- Issue #28 of The Powerpuff Girls had a story, "Princess For A Day," which save for the narrator and a two-word balloon from Princess Morbucks, was entirely sans dialogue.
- Godzilla in Hell has no human characters, and none of the Kaiju characters speak except for roars and growls.
- In the short His Wife Is a Hen, nothing is spoken beyond whispers and exclamations. In addition, the short as a whole is lacking in any sound beyond the noise of daily life and a record player.
- Used in Garfield in: "Along Came a Splut"; despite the abundance of characters, there are exactly five lines of spoken dialogue in the story, three of those lines are spoken by Garfield, and only one of them is a full sentence and isn't a pop culture reference.
- Part of what makes the Harry Potter fanfic After the Abuse, Part One so bizarre is that there's no dialogue at all- the reader is just told everything that happens. This is not the right way to go when your story consists of an incoherent Random Events Plot.
- Guardian uses a silent page to convey the grief when Lulu, Wakka, and Yuna learn of Chappu's death.
Films — Animated
- The Red Turtle is free of dialogue, which helps in setting its contemplative tone.
Films — Live-Action
- The 1924 silent film The Last Laugh takes this up a notch by not only being silent (as of course all films of that era were) but by having only one title card, coming towards the end. Throughout the entire film the only exposition comes from an inscription on a cake and from a newspaper article. The rest of the story is told entirely through images.
- Its director, F. W. Murnau, is perhaps the king of this trope. From his most famous film, Nosferatu, to his smash hit Sunrise, his films largely relied heavily on visual storytelling rather than title cards, always to great effect.
- Silent films hung around in China for several years after the first Chinese talking films were produced, due to the language barrier with English talking films and the language barrier between Mandarin and other Chinese languages. The Goddess, about a Shanghai prostitute, was released in 1934, four full years after the first Chinese sound film (Sing Song Girl Red Peony).
- While known for being one of the first truly great sound films, Fritz Lang's M actually contains very little dialogue and nearly a third of the movie is completely silent. Incidentally, this made it quieter than actual silent movies (which were almost always accompanied by music), making the moments with sound all the more striking.
- Carl Dreyer's Vampyr is an almost silent early sound film.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey is 141 minutes long, but there's only forty of them where anyone says anything.
- The ending of Franco Zefferelli's version of Romeo and Juliet had very little in the way of dialogue compared to the original text's ending.
- Sergio Leone's movies were usually very sparse dialogue-wise, letting the visuals and Ennio Morricone's music tell the story instead.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a great example; the film runs ten minutes before anybody speaks. Also, in the final climactic three way duel, there is no dialogue at all for over five minutes, and the film relies entirely on the score, and closeups of the three main character's faces, each trying decide whether to move first. It is widely considered to be one of the most dramatic and tense moments in film history.
- The opening of Once Upon a Time in the West has no dialogue as a trio of gunman wait for their target to arrive on a train. The final showdown is over nine minutes long, in which a total of 8 words are spoken.
- Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, of course. The only spoken word in the entire movie is said by mime Marcel Marceau.
- In addition to being in black-and-white, Eraserhead has very little music and keeps the dialogue to the barest minimum, while even the tiniest background noises are unusually audible, enhancing the eerie, nightmarish quality of the movie.
- The Call of Cthulhu, based on the 1926 H.P. Lovecraft classic, which was intended to look it could've been made around the time that the original story was written.
- E. Elias Merhige's Begotten is completely silent.
- An afficionado of silent films, Guy Maddin has made several himself, including Brand Upon the Brain! and Cowards Bend the Knee.
- The black-and-white Japanese Body Horror film Tetsuo (sometimes known as Tetsuo: The Iron Man), which was influenced by Eraserhead, also uses minimal dialogue.
- The 1973 experimental film Themroc features no intelligible dialogue, but plenty of gibberish, screaming, and grunting.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982) has a deliberately sparse script to let the exquisite music do the talking. A wise move.
- Charlie Chaplin's first two sound films, City Lights and Modern Times, were essentially silent films with recorded soundtracks. The latter only had dialogue that came from either recordings or loudspeakers (i.e., not natural speech), Chaplin's way of pointing out what he felt was the artificiality of sound film. Chaplin himself never did a "Talkie" until The Great Dictator, and even then, there are long segments of silent comedy.
- No Country for Old Men has several long periods of silence, and no score until the credits.
- Into Great Silence, a documentary about life in the French monastery of Grand Chartreuse, who keep talking to a minimum.
- The 1955 film Dementia is completely devoid of speech, although a version with narration by Ed McMahon (but still no dialogue) was later released as Daughter of Horror.
- Luc Besson's directorial debut Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle in English) has no dialogue, as humanity has lost the power of speech.
- The Thief, a '50s Cold War Spy Drama starring Ray Milland, is dialogue-free.
- Defenceless: A Blood Symphony features no dialogue, but extensive screaming to compliment the aggressively unpleasant imagery taking place on screen.
- Jan vankmajer's 1996 Conspirators of Pleasure features no dialogue.
- The 1983 film Le Bal, which depicts 50 years of French history through a ballroom in France, includes no dialogue.
- The Illusionist (1984) has no dialogue other than some unintelligible mumbling.
- The Hungarian film Hukkle has almost no dialogue, apart from a song at the end.
- The "sound" work of director Tod Browning is punctuated by extended scenes of silence and visual expressionism. By the time he did Freaks he figured out how to do this without resorting to the minimalistically stylized dialogue he used in Dracula (1931).
- Vase de Noces, a Belgian arthouse film from 1975 informally known as The Pig Fucking Movie on account of its zoophilic subject-matter, contains no dialogue.
- Compared to some of his other incarnations who just won't shut up; Bumblebee in the Transformers Film Series is a mute who uses the radio of his car form to communicate (by playing songs and broadcasting messages that fit his intentions).
- Most of Jacques Tati's films are like this. In the classic French film Mr. Hulot's Holiday (as well as in his other films), spoken dialogue is mostly limited to the role of background sounds. When they were released in theaters internationally, Tati insisted that there be no subtitles, as they would distract from the visual gags that make up his films. Tati's films though lacking in dialogue are full of carefully detailed and thought of soundtracks of foleys, ambience sounds and other details which simply can't be achieved "silently". For his film, Playtime, he took a year working on the soundtrack alone.
- Moon has a number of long silences, though not as many as you'd think for a film about a man, alone, on the moon.
- The German film Tuvalu is a throwback to the silent era that even goes so far as to have monochromatic film. There is sound and music but no actual words spoken aside from the names of people and places (even then, it isn't very often).
- In Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron (Bin-Jip), the two protagonists have only two lines of dialogue, spoken at the very end of the film.
- Documentary filmmaker Godfrey Reggio is possibly the contemporary king of this trope, considering that his -qatsi trilogy of films (beginning with 1983's Koyaanisqatsi) are all films with no dialogue in them and the only sound evident being the musical score. One of the -qatsi cinematographers, Ron Fricke, also made his own no-dialogue documentary in the same vein as Reggio's documentaries, 1992's Baraka.
- The 2002 film Marathon, directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Amir Naderi, features a young woman who is trying to complete as many crossword puzzles as she can in 24 hours while riding the New York City subway system. Shot in black and white, its other distinguishing feature is that it features very little dialogue (consisting of one brief interaction between the protagonist and a young man riding the subway and a few answering machine messages left by the protagonist's mother) and the only soundtrack running throughout the film is the background noise of the subway system.
- The Marx Brothers
- Due to Harpo being The Speechless, some of his comedy routines involve no dialogue.
- The famed Mirror Routine in Duck Soup is performed without dialogue or sound effects of any kind.
- An episode of the Anthology Series General Electric Theater "The Great Jewel Robbery" starred Chico and Harpo Marx in an all-silent story, except one line at the very end delivered by Special Guest Groucho.
- The Artist is a 2011 silent black and white drama about a romance of two actors respectively falling and rising in Hollywood's difficult transition to sound. Subverted in that the lead character realizes that he feels trapped in silence and earns his happy ending when his love shows him that he has the talent to succeed when he accepts the reality of sound films.
- The French short film The Red Balloon has practically no dialogue.
- Both speech and score cease during the final battle in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, only picking up again when a ship emerges and attacks making the fight far more dramatic.
- When the Alien Queen is revealed in Aliens, there is no speech or score.
- French caper film Rififi (1955) has a burglary scene that lasts 32 minutes without dialog or music.  requires near-absolute silence in order to defeat the burglar alarm.
- The car chase scene as well as the final battle which took place in the rain contains no music in the Jack Reacher movie.
- Alfred Hitchcock managed to successfully create dramatic scenes without dialogue even after the silent era ended.
- Upstream Color has a number of stretches without dialogue. Much of the plot is implied rather than outright stated.
- Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away: Most of the spoken lines are in the opening sequence before the story goes Down the Rabbit Hole. After entering the Cirque world what little dialogue they have is mostly Speaking Simlish.
- As polarizing as Spider-Man 3 was, one thing that even its detractors have nothing but praise for is the quiet, somber, and emotionally charged birth of Sandman.
- The Host had two scenes that were completely void of sound entirely; the moment where the monster first captures Hyun-seo, and the moment where the monster regurgitates a load of corpses and bones into the sewer.
- Hush is just under 90 minutes long and contains less than 15 minutes of dialogue, which makes sense considering the protagonist is deaf. In certain scenes the ambient noise will also slowly fade out to make it more obvious how the main character is perceiving the world.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had the aftermath of Sirius' death completely silent save for the emotional music (which drowns out all other audio), which makes it all the more heartbreaking to watch as Harry lets out of cries of utter anguish while constrained by Lupin. One reason the music was included was that during this part, Daniel Radcliffe reportedly let out a scream so agonizing that the original audio wasn't included in the film.
- In Ant-Man, after Scott shrinks down into the Quantum Realm, we get an extended, very trippy sequence of him floating through a kaleidoscope-like dreamscape as he gets smaller and smaller and smaller. After that ends, there is a smash cut to him floating through that space, and it is absolutely dead silent.
- With the exception for the intro and the hunter scenes, there's no dialogue in Benji the Hunted.
- The first 10 minutes of The Book of Eli are completely free of dialogue.
- In Riddick, good portion of the beginning is free of dialogue until the half of the movie.
- Star Wars The Last Jedi has both sound and score cut out completely when Vice Admiral Holdo rams her cruiser into First Order flagship Supremacy at lightspeed, cleaving it in two and shredding the First Order's fleet in a phenomenal display of destruction.
Live Action TV
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" is without dialogue for over 27 minutes straight, nearly two thirds of the episode.
- The first episode of Carnivàle has a beautifully shot sequence, almost five minutes long, of Brother Justin rising from his chair, walking through town (either a single shot or a well edited sequence to give the impression of one) and having a vision in the snow. In all this time, the only dialogue is in the background music at the very start of the sequence. This continued in other episodes and is even used in the opening shots several times, most notably in the second episode where the only thing said in several minutes is a meaningful phrase.
- The first act of the Frasier episode "Three Valentines" is done in almost complete silence. Niles has a few lines at the start of the scene, but the rest of the scene involves just a few barks from Eddie and a few mutterings from Niles as he prepares for a date.
- The original Mr. Bean series is famous for its lack of dialogue. Not so with Bean or its Animated Adaptation.
- Mr. Bean's Holiday was much more in keeping with this style. Which style works best in movie form is up for debate.
- Mr. Bean was inspired partly by acclaimed French comic Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot films.
- The Twilight Zone
- The classic episode "The Invaders", written by Richard Matheson, has no dialogue save for the final scene. This builds up the Twist Ending, since the final scene has the minuscule "aliens" speaking English, while we never hear the protagonist speak at all—obscuring the fact that she's actually the alien, while the supposed aliens are human astronauts.
- The parts of "Once Upon a Time" set in 1890, as a way to differentiate them from the 1960 scenes. Particularly odd to a modern viewer seeing "Very very old film style" segueing to merely "old" to say nothing of how it painted the 4th wall.
- The episode "Justin's New Girlfriend" of Wizards of Waverly Place had a silent movie style segment.
- Switched at Birth aired an episode called "Uprising" which is told entirely through American Sign Language and subtitles. (One of the main characters is deaf.)
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had a silent-film-style sketch with a man attempting to undress in public.
- The opening sequence of The Walking Dead episode "Seed" has no dialogue, just ambient noises as unspeaking characters scrounge for supplies at a walker-infested house. It's very effective at conveying just how long they've been doing this, and how badly their scavenging existence has beaten them down.
- Sesame Street: Elmo imagines the world without sound. And Bob told Elmo that how it's like to be deaf, No sound.
- Vikings: the blood eagle execution scene serves as the climax of an episode and is played with soundtrack music only.
- The final act of "Exodus, Pt. 3", the last episode of the first season of LOST, has no dialogue. Only the musical score is heard during a few flashbacks and the iconic final scene of Jack and Locke staring down the shaft after blowing the hatch open. Season 2's first episode, "Man of Science, Man of Faith", also has no dialogue in its cold open, which at first appears to be an unknown character's flashback, but is actually showing Desmond's morning routine inside the Hatch, ending with a shot looking back up the very same shaft at Jack and Locke, establishing that this is a continuation of the same scene.
- In the Master of None episode "New York, I Love You", the segment highlighting a deaf cashier and her social life has no audio at all. The people shown instead deliver their dialogue in either American Sign Language (conveniently subtitled for viewers who don't know much about it), written word, or a combination of lip movements and descriptive body language.
- Yes, it's even been done in music: John Cage's "4'33''". Subverted, in that the idea behind the song is that the ambiance and occasional audience chatter, non-silenced cellphones going off, etc., is not only considered part of the music, it's the music itself. This has roots in an experience in a soundproof chamber that Cage had: He expected silence inside of it, only to hear a "high sound", his nervous system, and a "low sound", his heartbeat. Cage then came to the realization that proper silence doesn't exist.
"Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music."
- Type O Negative's The Misinterpretation of Silence and its Disastrous Consequences and the remix The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences (Wombs and Tombs mix)
- This trope is part of the appeal of Stop and Go.
- Lights' "Quiet" is about the narrator and her lover enjoying a peaceful silence.
No fighting wars, no ringing chimes
We're just feeling fine...
- Baez's "The Swallow Song" ends with several rhetorical questions, one of which references this trope.
And will the breezes blow the petals from your hand?
And will some loving ease your pain?
And will the silence strike confusion from your soul?
- For Better or for Worse mimes its dialogue in some of the more comedic Sunday strips. The effect is oddly like a Charlie Chaplin movie in comic-strip form.
- Bound and Gagged originally started with this premise: no dialogue, just pictures. As the strip went on, however, the author apparently wasn't able to keep coming up with these silent gags as it features more of the "audible" kind now.
- As seen above, Calvin and Hobbes is famous for this trope. In one case Bill Watterson ran several consecutive strips silent this way featuring Calvin growing bigger and bigger. In one of his anthologies, he later explained that he wanted to keep doing this for a month and "see how long readers would put up with it." He ultimately decided to stop after two weeks, ending the last strip with a little dialogue as a punchline.
- Liō is one of the only (and possibly the only) newspaper comics to do this consistently. Every once in a while, writing from a notebook or letter will show up in a panel, but actual speech is mimed. Presumably, words distract from the Nightmare Fuel.
- Peanuts has some memorable silent comics, such as Snoopy's first appearance and the fourth wall breaking piano note strips.
- The majority of Cirque du Soleil shows, particularly in The '80s and The '90s, have little or no dialogue. If the characters talk at all, usually they are Speaking Simlish or a non-English language (which also goes for the lyrics of the songs in each show).
- Ballet is always wordless. In place of speech, there's a language in the precise miming motions of the dancers.
- Dragon's Wake: The game uses no text or dialogue to tell the story. Instead, the plot is conveyed through images shown during loading screens, paintings that the player can discover in the levels and the events of the game itself.
- Journey. The one means of communication and interaction available is "singing" a near-melodic tone, and the only text is in the title, the pause screen, and the credits.
- The LEGO Adaptation Game series (up to Lego Batman 2) uses no dialogue in cutscenes.
- Many Myst-style games are like this. You get a short speech in the prologue or opening scene, the occasional bit of dialogue when you encounter another character ... and most of the game is just exploring and playing with objects.
- Interactive Fiction takes this to the logical extreme: no graphics, no sound. Not only is the gameplay silent, the story often is too, because it's a pain to program NPCs who can talk and most creators don't bother to include descriptions of the auditory environment (more's the pity). With a typical parser, you can "say [dialogue]" if you wish, but you'll get no response.
- The story of The Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl is told entirely without dialog (disregarding Calling Your Attacks). The only time anyone speaks is when Snake breaks the fourth wall. Once.
- The Caveman arc of Live A Live. Justified in the fact that language hasn't been invented yet.
- Another World is another game which uses dialogue-free cutscenes to tell its story.
- Everyone in Limbo are rather silent, unless they happen to be animals.
- Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon: To really hammer down the lonely atmosphere of the game, most of the game is spent silent, with no BGM and no one to talk to. Becuase the game is lauded for it's emotional and beautiful music, the tearjerking effect when said soundtrack is actually used has much more impact.
- Yume Nikki is also dialogue-free. Needless to say, this is a contributing factor to the staggering amount of Wild Mass Guessing it's become infamous for.
- There are no spoken lines in the original edition of the first Metroid Prime game (besides a computer saying, "WARNING: SELF DESTRUCT ACTIVATED".) The beautiful environments of Talon IV show you the story of the fallen Chozo civilization, and there are plenty of written logs lying around in case you couldn't figure it out yourself. Samus is quiet, but you can tell she's thinking something. A narrator was added at the start of and end of the game in the PAL version onward, but other than that, the atmosphere remains the same.
- The Path has no speech at all; instead the tone of conversations is conveyed through character animation, music and color. The "tutorial" instructions are two lines long, and expected to be ignored. Textual descriptions of items encountered are also quite sparse.
- The Wii A Boy and His Blob has almost no dialogue or text at all. Aside from a few sound clips from the Boy, the story is told solely through animation, and the hint signs show pictures instead of words. The only non-system text in the game is in a small bonus unlockable storybook.
- The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom as a homage to silent films has absolutely no dialogue or narration.
- Happens during some of the more Dramatic (and Heartbreaking) moments of Asura's Wrath.
- They Bleed Pixels has screams and Black Speech, but the only intelligible words are occasional bits of writing.
- Episode I of the Xenosaga trilogy was notable for taking place largely in cavernous, abandoned (except for the occasional monster) areas and having no dungeon or town background music, leading to several long segments of the game where the only noises are the character's own footsteps and whatever might be happening in the background around them. The second and third games fix this by having near-constant background music playing away in towns and dungeons.
- Don't Look Back has a title screen and a few lines of instructional text, but no dialogue.
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons uses Simlish and sparingly at that.
- Snow Bros has a rare Mega Drive version that features original cutscenes similar in style to those from Zero Wing, but with neither Engrish nor Japanese text.
- Most of the 80s and 90s videogames are completely silent (except for the sounds effects).
- Both of the 'escaping prisoner' sequences in Chrono Trigger feature minimal dialogue and no background music, unless you get into a fight or witness something plot-relevant going on. It's more effective the first time due to Chrono being by himself in a dungeon that has almost no living prisoners left in it.
- This amateur film, consisting of no sound other than background music.
- The Hitler Rants video where Hitler is informed of nothing and says nothing.
- The Gift is an excellent example. It tells the view a time, place, and plot with only one (arguably unnecessary) snippet of dialogue.
- KLOMP! Animation cartoons, such as Bad Days, often keep spoken dialogue to a minimum.
- The web animation series Porkchop 'n Flatscreen! Besides the title cards, and some songs, it has no spoken dialogue at all. It has pictorial speech bubbles and silent movie dialogue cards instead.
- Also from the same creator, Chubby Mermaid.
- Little Boat. It only takes 4 minutes to tell its story.
- Simon's Cat has a cat but it doesn't talk. Popular with cat lovers and owners.
- Coffin Comics has many examples of this, especially in the earlier comics.
- Freefall has the short "taking the emu to the park" arc that starts here.
- The Intrepid Girlbot has only ever had dialog in a one-shot strip involving Nikola Tesla◊. Lately, there have been a couple of snippets of speech, but only incidentally.
- The earlier strips of Nerf NOW!! were mostly silent, largely because the creator speaks English as a second language.
- The Princess and the Giant. A silent fairy tale.
- Whats Shakin does this as the final page in every issue. Some panoramic panels in some pages do this as well.
- Sidequest Story makes use of this trope in every page, using pictographs in place of any dialogue.
- The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal uses this to great effect. Chapters 14 and (the admittedly very short) 17 are entirely without dialogue.
- Its very rare for Derelict to have any dialog, as the protagonist is alone in a World Half Empty and usually ends up shooting her potential conversation partners.
- The Bully's Bully tells its stories with no dialogue or text at all. Not even onomatopoeia.
- My Cardboard Life uses this sometimes.
- Save for a touch of Early Installment Weirdness where the fox could talk, StupidFox is effectively silent.
- The Kevin & Kell storyline "A Christmas for Coney", back when Coney was pre-verbal.
- In Rusty and Co., the end of the hospital encounter with Rob the Hammer has only three sound effects.
- Quite a few classic cartoons (such as Tom & Jerry and The Pink Panther) featured non-verbal characters, focusing on visual gags and slapstick humor. See the Mime and Music-Only Cartoon page. The original One Froggy Evening is another famous classic cartoon example. It's considered the Citizen Kane of animated shorts.
- Fantasia, being a collection of short animated films set to classical music, had no need for dialogue. Ditto its follow-up Fantasia 2000.
- Disney's The Little Match Girl 2006 short.
- Genndy Tartakovsky seems to practice this often.
- Dexter's Laboratory has semi-common wordless scenes in addition to the No Dialogue Episode "DiM".
- Samurai Jack has extended silences in almost every episode and often little dialogue, and it works very well. It's has the extremely rare distinction of being a half-hour cartoon with no scripts, just storyboards. Duck Dodgers spoofed this as part of a Whole Plot Reference-cum-Homage to Jack: Several sequences have no sound at all as Dodgers-as-Jack walks the Earth, except for Dodgers occasionally muttering "Walking..." under his breath.
- He also did the original version of Star Wars: Clone Wars, which made excellent use of extended no-dialogue sequences.
- The holiday cartoon The Snowman, based on a similarly dialogue-less picture book of the same name.
- Shaun the Sheep has no dialogue whatsoever.
- One episode of Batman Beyond has a silent segment when he's fighting Shriek. Batman enters a car factory to hide. Shriek responds by tuning out all noises in the area except Batman's footsteps, which he amplifies. The show makers did this because 1) they'd always wanted to do a silent scene and 2) when the noise filter shorts out and Shriek is rendered deaf by the sudden onslaught of amplified noise it's more obvious.
- The original DCAU Batman movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman had a short piece called "Chase Me" featuring Batman pursuing Catwoman through Gotham which was run silent this way except for some soft jazz as musical accompaniment.
- The original Ĉon Flux shorts had no dialogue, only music and sound effects (one has a single spoken "Plop").
- Richard Williams' workprint of The Thief and the Cobbler and the fan-edited Recobbled Version (which most people are very thankful for).
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The final fight between Azula and Zuko has no dialogue. When we cut from one scene to their ongoing fight in the Imperial City, all we see are huge gusts of blue and yellow/red fire being flung through a dark and deserted court. The sound of flames and the accompanying slow, sorrowful music (aptly titled "The Last Agni-Kai") make the scene all the more potent.
I'm sorry it has to end this way, brother!No. You're not.
- Even the pre-fight dialogue is very concise, but really, it says everything necessary:
- In The Fairly OddParents! episode where Timmy wishes for quiet, there is no in-universe sound at all, but music accompanies every single moment of the "silence". Actually extremely well done.
- Utilized in the ReBoot season three episode "Game Over". When the system voice announces that the user has won and effectively killed Enzo, Andraia, and Frisket, no sound occurs for twenty seconds before Dot responds.
- The Codename: Kids Next Door episode Operation: T.H.E. F.L.Y. is entirely silent, except for music.
- The Triplets of Belleville, which was heavily influenced by silent comedies and classic cartoons, makes prominent usage of music, but is dialogue-free (except for a recorded TV interview of Charles de Gaulle). The lack of need for subtitles or dubbing may have contributed to the film's international popularity.
- The Illusionist, made by the same people as The Triplets of Belleville has almost no dialogue as well. This stands to reason, given that the film was both a-homage-to and based-on-a-script-by Jacques Tati. (see above under "Film")
- Wall E is quite sparse dialogue-wise. About half an hour of movie passes before anyone says a line of dialogue outside of a recording.
- In Up, the movie tracks Carl and Ellie's marriage with a long montage that goes through their youth, her infertility, her death, and his old age.
- Most Pixar Shorts are without dialogue, with the exceptions of Boundin' and Lava (both of which are musical and feature characters speaking in song), and movie tie-ins.
- Discussed in the DVD commentary of How to Train Your Dragon. Some of the people involved in the film thought that the bonding sequence between Toothless and Hiccup would never work, because it was somewhere in the range of three minutes long and right in the middle of the movie. Luckily, the filmmakers insisted and even the skeptics changed their mind when the sequence was finished. The romantic flight scene with Astrid is also an aversion of Lull Destruction. Both moments are instead held up by wonderful animation and John Powell's hypnotizing score.
- The Little Island is a philosophical argument between three men without any dialogue. Interpretation is left up to the viewer.
- To commemorate the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF commissioned animators from around the world to create cartoons illustrating each article of the Convention; because one of the requirements was that anyone be able to understand the cartoon regardless of what language they spoke, all have no dialogue (and if they do it's in gibberish), and instead rely on gesture and music to convey the message.
- Hanna-Barbera's "Blast-Off Buzzard" (a segment of their 1977 CB Bears show) was the studio's first, and only, television cartoon with no dialogue.
- Gravity Falls: Each episode plays a short clip over the credits to wrap things up or get in another quick gag before it's over. The episode "Not What He Seems" just shows two young boys quietly sitting on a swing set, with but the quiet beach breeze for company. Especially effective because of what immediately preceded it.
- Star Wars Rebels: The Season 2 finale, "Twilight of the Apprentice", plays an ending montage in the last minute or two, being played over the theme of Ahsoka. Effective, because it shows the crew's reaction to Kanan's loss of vision, the chronological end of Ahsoka's story, as well as Vader limping away from the events of the finale and Maul flying off to parts unknown. Also, Ezra is now worthy enough to open a Sith holocron.
- The animated short The Dam Keeper by Tonko House has no dialogue with the characters at all besides a few gasps and laughs from the character and the only speaking character is The Narrator.
- With the exception of the beginning and the ending, the episode "Fish Out of Water" episode of BoJack Horseman is completely silent due to most of the episode taking place underwater.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: At the end of the 2nd season finale "Starcrushed", just as Marco chases Star to her room, he's just speechless once he enters the room, and at the end, there is nothing but dead silence during the credits (as opposed to the standard end credits). There really are no words to describe what had just happened without killing the moment.