Silent Treatment

Brave men tell the truth.
The wise man's tools are analogies and puzzles.
A woman holds her tongue
Knowing silence will speak for her.
— "Remind Me", Roysköpp

Want to really show your disapproval for someone? Just give them the dreaded silent treatment! While in some cases this may seem like a relief, this can be a very effective form of punishment and social isolation, especially if several people gang up to give one or more others the silent treatment. A common subversion nevertheless is that the person being subjected to the silent treatment is relieved that they no longer have to hear the other person speak.

Could lead to Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him. Not to be confused with The Quiet Game.


Comic Books
  • In Empowered, Emp has a tendency to do this to Thugboy when he pisses her off. Cue parody Imagine Spots of him fighting his way through blizzards...

  • In the Harry Potter series, this is a favourite tactic of both Vernon Dursley and Severus Snape. Harry is quite relieved when Snape uses it against him, as it means that he doesn't have to suffer anything worse.
  • In What a Trip, Amber Brown, Amber Brown subjects her best friend Justin Daniels to this after he splashes her in the pool and otherwise gets on her nerves, but he soon manages to get her to forgive him.
  • Described as a form of bullying in one of the stories of the anthology Dear Bully, in which a group of kids at a school subjected a different kid to the silent treatment each week, and each never thought it could never happen to them... until it did.
  • In the The Great Brain series the Fitzgerald family uses this as the ultimate punishment instead of a whipping. The boy who gets the silent treatment wishes he was whipped instead, it's so devastating.
  • In Thomas Costain's novel The Black Rose, Walter's grandfather has made an oath never to speak to him; he now regrets it, but he gave his word. Near the end of the novel, after Walter's successful adventures in the Orient, his grandfather accidentally addresses Walter directly three times, and decides he can consider the oath permanently broken.
  • In Pinocchio's Sister, ventriloquist Mr. Rosedale has become completely wrapped up in his dummy Iris, to the point of neglecting his daughter, Martha. After Martha has an outburst at Iris in the park, her father does not speak to her for hours.

Live-Action TV
  • On Banshee Kai Proctor is a crime kingpin who comes from a traditional Amish family. Because of his criminal lifestyle, the entire Amish community is shunning him. When he tries to talk to his father, Proctor Sr. does not even acknowledge that Kai is there.
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Guitarist Amplification":
    Penny: What is he doing?
    Leonard: It's a little hard to explain. He's pretending to be in an alternate universe where he occupies the same physical space as us, but cannot perceive us.
    Sheldon: Oh, don't flatter yourself. I'm just ignoring you.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: In the episode "Tunnel Vision", the Sheriff's henchmen decide to express their hurt feelings by collectively ignoring him. The Sheriff has coincidentally just come into possession of an artifact claimed to make its owner invisible, and thus is led to believe that the artifact actually works.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): An invoked version occurs in "To See the Invisible Man". People convicted of the crime of "coldness" receive a mark on their forehead that warns everyone in society to treat them as though they weren't there, on penalty of receiving the same punishment if they don't.

Video Games
  • Elika gives the Prince the silent treatment for most of the "Epilogue" add-on to Prince of Persia (2008), after he releases Ahriman all over again by bringing her back to life.

Western Animation
  • PB&J Otter has an episode called "The Silent Treatment" in which Pinch Raccoon and Jelly Otter give it to each other after Pinch gives Jelly a makeover that she didn't want.
  • South Park: The kids are finally fed up with Cartman and decide to give him the silent treatment. As a result, he thinks he's dead and a ghost. Butters, the only one not in on the decision, talks to Cartman and Cartman convinces Butters that he can see dead people.