Smash Cut

A Smash Cut cut occurs without warning in the middle of a scene and transitions abruptly to another, and is often intended to startle the audience. Very often, it goes something like this:

Bob: I'm so not gonna —
(smash cut to Bob doing whatever he was about to say he wouldn't do)
Bob: ...Dangnabbit.

Can also be combined with Gilligan Cut, or Ironic Echo, though a Smash Cut is defined by the lack of warning that it is coming and the fact that it usually cuts someone off mid-sentence. It can be used effectively to create a Mood Whiplash. This is also a popular technique for going to credits, or for when someone wakes up from a Nightmare, so it often overlaps with Catapult Nightmare. Compare Ironic Echo Cut, Jump Cut, and Smash to Black.

Overlaps with Interrupted by the End. Not to be confused with the Canadian movie Smash Cut.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: the big bad of part 5 weaponizes this through his stand King Crimson by erasing 10-seconds of time and attacking his enemies when they're caught off guard.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, chapter 83, we follow Yue briefly after she sees Negi and Nodoka off on their date. In the last two panels of the page she bumps into someone and apologises. The scene then abruptly cuts back to Negi and Nodoka, and it's not until four chapters later that we return to this scene and find out that she bumped into Negi himself.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion uses this quite a bit, usually skipping from an Eva having its ass whooped to a replay of the damage.

    Fan Works 
  • A Delicate Balance ends one of its chapters with Twilight and Applejack joking about Pinkie watching them through a telescope. The next chapter opens with none other than Pinkie watching them through a telescope.
  • In Bring Me All Your Elderly, the Gaang and the movie characters are spotted by a collection of Fire Nation soldiers. Given the wimpification of the movie universe, Sokka says they can easily take the soldiers — cue them being led into the Earthbender prison in chains before Sokka can even finish his sentence.

  • Apollo 13 does this with the news that Ken Mattingly, due to his being exposed to German measlesnote  would be kicked off the flight and replaced by Jack Swigert. We first see Swigert's reaction; his Big "YES!" is interrupted by Mattingly's shocked and distraught expression.
  • A Serious Man: When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies...
  • Used comically in John Carter.
  • The ending to Inception: Cobb's totem starts to wobble as the scene smash cuts to black and the credits begin to roll.
  • Lawrence of Arabia has the title character trying to figure out how to help the Arabs do something to strike against the Ottoman Empire before the British army completely dismisses them as useless. One key Ottoman stronghold is Aqaba, but they have heavy artillery pointed at the seaside port, the only logical point of entry as on their other side is a large desert. When a child throws a rock at his back, Lawrence gets an idea.
    Lawrence: Aqaba. Aqaba, from the land.
    [Cut to]
    Ali: [standing quickly] You are mad!
  • Used any time Jason puts together a costume in Mystery Team.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has too many of these to count.
  • The movie War had these just about every second to the point where you say "This is ridiculous!" ten minutes into the movie.
  • We Were Soldiers: During one battle sequence, the frenzied noise of gunfire, explosions, and jet planes making bombing runs on the batlefield abruptly cuts to a close-up of a vacuum cleaner as Colonel Moore's wife tends to the housecleaning at home.
  • Used on Planes when Dusty is flying inside a train tunnel just as the train is about to enter. As he exits, the train is just inches from his face, and then... smash cut to a white screen and no sound, and then Dusty appears to be flying in Fluffy Cloud Heaven (actually a misty valley in the Himalayas).
  • Left Behind (2014) provides a very nice smash cut when the Muslim pulls something out of his luggage and points it at a suspicious passenger — cut to a man being blasted through a glass door in front of Chloe, back in New York. When we return to the plane, it turns out the Muslim is holding an electric toothbrush.

    Live Action TV 
  • An Angel episode had Wesley happily declare "We're winning!" during a battle. Smash Cut to the aftermath of the battle and the group tied up.
    • In fact, something like this happens in almost every episode of Angel.
    • Joss Whedon does another one in Serenity, when we cut from River being told to "lie down" to her having a needle shoved into her forehead in a lab. Joss admits on the commentary track that much of the camera work in the first few minutes, which includes several Smash Cuts and Hard Cuts, are designed to show River's fractured mental state, and by contrast when we first see the titular ship it's done in a Oner to establish a sense of safety.
    • Yeah, Joss Whedon loves these. A particularly heart wrenching example is in the Buffy episode "Selfless" which goes from Anya singing an upbeat song about how much she loves Xander to her with a sword through her chest after Buffy impaled her, she gets better quickly but the audience doesn't for a while
      • Several more appear in "The Body", cutting from imagined scenes of Joyce's recovery to her dead body.
      • A more light-hearted version from the Musical Episode is cutting from the midst of Tara's highly-suggestive love song ("You make me—" (complete)) to Xander hinting Tara and Willow have slipped away for some nookie.
      • Even better, just before this, Tara lays down on the bed, with Willow starting off straddling her, and then moving off-screen to somewhere... lower down in regards to Tara. The scene then actually cuts her off at "You make me com-" creating an additional joke with the smash cut to Xander's "I wonder what Willow and Tara are up to."
  • Doctor Who:
    • Happens at the end of Revelation of the Daleks, when the Doctor is telling Peri where he'll take her for some peace and tranquility. "I'll take you to-" (closing credits).
    • Lampshaded rather sinisterly in the later episode Forest of the Dead where Donna apparently lives in a computer-generated television reality, where these cuts actually happen with nothing in between.
    Dr Moon (walking with Donna in her front garden): Shall we go down to the river?
    They're suddenly by the river.
    Donna: You said 'river' and suddenly we're feeding ducks.
    • In Time Heist, when the Doctor picks up the TARDIS phone, the scene suddenly cuts to himself, Clara and two strangers all holding memory worms.
    • In The Girl Who Died, when the Doctor decides to give the villagers he is training real swords, the scene cuts to the village being on fire.
  • In an episode of The George Lopez Show, Benny vows to do something horrible to George for rigging a productivity contest. George thinks she's bluffing. Cut to George crying over his broken golf clubs.
    "AY DIOS MIO!!!"
  • The Lost episode "The Constant" uses Smash Cuts to show Desmond's jarring transitions between 1996 and 2004.
  • A Stargate Universe episode had body-swapping communications devices "blink" as a result of the spaceship carrying them going in and out of FTL. This resulted in people who were temporarily borrowing other people's bodies thousands of light-years away, getting jerked back into their own for a few seconds with no warning at all.
    Destiny drops out of FTL.
    Eli (in the control room): All right, this is ridiculous. Jumping back and forth without any warning is completely—
    Eli (back in his hotel on Earth): —unacceptable! [looks around] Seriously?
  • Malcolm in the Middle does this frequently. A notable occurrence was in an early episode at the school Francis goes to. He went up to a bunch of guys who acted like an organized cult and told them to stop harassing everyone, repeatedly saying "Just Stop." It cuts into Francis telling his roommate and bodyguard to "Just Stop Packing." as the roommate is packing his bags to leave for the weekend. Needless to say, the cult members start harassing Francis.
    • Another example happens in Poker #2 when Hal is talking to his poker buddies about how love and trust are what keeps a relationship healthy, which cuts mid-sentence to Francis telling his friend Eric the same thing. It definitely goes steps towards showing that Hal and Francis have similar relationships with their wives.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be", a scene of Dean thrusting a knife into his stomach cuts to Sam yelling Dean's name, and we realize this is real life Sam waking Dean from the djinn induced dream.
  • Lampshaded in 30 Rock episode "Smash cut to".
  • On Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, when the head of the A/V club gets hold of the Book and starts editing reality, one hapless student finds himself facing a different room in the school every time he turns around enough for the camera angle to change.

    Video Games 
  • In the Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People episode Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective, this happens when Strong Bad tries to edit around Coach Z's bad acting. It fails:
    Dangeresque: I solved the kidnapping case, Renaldo! She was kidnapped by a monster with a broken heart.
    Renaldo: That's the dumbest— {Jump cut} Dangeresque, you're a genius!

    Web Animation 
  • The Happy Tree Friends episode "False Alarm" starts off with Lifty and Shifty selling Nutty a flatbed truck full of candy. They dump the candy on him but before it falls on him the scene cuts to him in the hospital with the candy having impaled his stomach and him getting it surgically removed.
  • Happens fairly often in the Homestar Runner series, notably the Strong Bad Emails.
  • Played for all it's worth with the Sequelitis series.
  • Ultra Fast Pony combines this with Medium Awareness for the end of the first episode.
    [Night Moon Mare is freed, and will soon destroy the world.]
    Twilight: Don't worry, I have a pla-
    ["To be continued..."]
    Twilight: Dammit!
  • From RWBY, when Ruby meets Glynda and realizes her hero is a huntress:
    Ruby: You're... a huntress... Can I have your autograph??
    (Scene cuts to Ruby being reprimanded by her hero in an interrogation room)

  • El Goonish Shive uses this when Catalina tries to figure out how to make up for spreading a rumor about Elliot being gay:
    Catalina: I'll think of something! I'll come up with an argument so airtight that
    (Cut to Catalina kissing a surprised Elliot on the lips)
  • Subverted in The Order of the Stick #855, while discussing a dungeon's poorly disguised traps. The joke is that V was in fact just that distracted and was actually lying unconscious at the bottom of one of those traps at the time:
    Roy: All these walls look the same, so I bet it was easy to get turned around with a few choice mirages until you walked into a deathtrap.
    Belkar: Yeah, but what kind of a moron would be so distracted to fall into one of them now [that there are no illusions]?
    (beat panel)
    Roy: Huh, I really felt like there was going to be a cutaway panel there.
    Haley: Me too!
    Belkar: Weird.

    Web Original 
  • A scene from The Gmod Idiot Box uses one of these, when Coach suffers from a volatile form of gonorrhea.
    [Nick sitting at a computer.]
    Coach: Aaaaaaaggghhh!!
    [Coach blasts a hole through the wall with flames shooting from his groin, frying Nick into a charred husk.]
    Nick: do that again, and I will bury you alive.
    Coach: AAH—!
    [Coach is barely holding it in.]
    Nick: Coach...!
    Coach: Eeyaaaaagghh—!!
    [The entire building explodes, and we smash cut to Coach's hand sticking out of the ground, giving the middle finger.]
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - a particularly bleak one and heartwrenching one at the very end that will have you desperately waiting for another scene. There isn't one.
    • An earlier one is played for laughs, when Dr. Horrible details (on his video blog) his plan for his next big attack. He signs off, and we immediately cut to his next blog, showing him battered and bruised, where he explains that his list of viewers evidently includes Captain Hammer and the Los Angeles Police Department, and that he needs to be more careful about what he says on his blog in the future.
  • Everyman HYBRID is pretty fond of this.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged does this hilariously in the abridging of the second Cooler movie: Goku and Vegeta are set upon by an army of Metal Coolers. They both power up, only for the scene to cut immediately to Goku and Vegeta captured in the Big Gete star. All we know about the fight is that all one thousand Coolers kicked Vegeta in the dick.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer has a very idiosyncratic trick of cutting people off mid-sentence and having the dialogue in the new scene either responding to, echoing, or finishing off whatever the previous speaker had been saying.
  • Occasionally accompanies the more hopeless plans on Avatar: The Last Airbender. For instance, in "The Cave of the Two Lovers", the Gaang decides they're not going to walk through the eponymous haunted cavern, they'll just fly instead. Smash Cut to a Fire Nation artillery battery using them for target practice, and they change their minds. In the Extras version of this episode, the smash cut was lampshaded.
    Sokka: Secret love cave, let's go.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The new Justice League, still a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits at this point, is about to go take on Darkseid. Martian Manhunter encourages everyone with a Rousing Speech...and we cut to everyone chained up in Darkseid's dungeon. While he got to finish his sentence, it was sudden and unexpected. And hilarious.
  • In Futurama, we have the producer's favorite smash cut ever from the episode "Put Your Head on My Shoulders":
    Bender: Wait. You mean people will pay good money for romance? Hmm. I think I have a scheme so deviously clever that I—
    [Smash Cut to courtroom and judge banging his gavel]
    Bender (with a gold tooth, fur coat, and two hooker bots): Stupid anti-pimping laws!
    • Another example happens right at the end of "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", when Zoidberg starts to sing his song and it smash cuts to the credits. We then hear Zoidberg sigh.
    • Most of "Time Keeps On Slipping" is held together entirely by Smash Cuts, with the twist that the characters don't remember what happened in between.
    • From Bender's Big Score
    Nudar: Tough times earth chumps. We're repossessing your TV. Seems you can't afford it now that you're unemployed!
    Zoidberg: We're not unemplo-
    (Cut to the crew being kicked out of the office).
    • In "Proposition Infinity", Amy and Bender have a torrid and illegal romance. They spearhead a campaign to make robot/human relationsihps legal, and actually win. Amy says now they can openly have a serious, monogomous relationship.
    Bender: That's righ— monogamous?
    (Cut to Bender on a beach somewhere with two fembots.)
  • Happens a lot to Helga and Arnold on Hey Arnold!.
  • From the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Ponyville Confidential": Rarity, at Sugarcube Corner, is dismissing the idea that Sweetie Belle is the gossip columnist "Gabby Gums".
    Rarity: How could you say such a thing, Twilight?! [Sweetie Belle] is the most innocent, most lovely-
    [cut to Rarity, back home, finding her diary in Sweetie Belle's saddlebag]
  • Happens a few times on The Simpsons.
    • In "Homer Goes to College", the nuclear physics professor invites Homer to demonstrate how a particle accelerator works. Smash Cut to students fleeing and screaming from the building, which is now glowing green.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Krusty Krab Training Video" ends with the narrator saying, "Okay! The [Krabby Patty] secret formula i-"
  • Every episode of The Venture Bros. ends with a smash cut into the ending credits.
  • In the first episode of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, the gang are at a university and Scooby and Shaggy find a gourmet vending machine in the cafeteria. When the machine jams as they try to get a turkey, Shaggy tries to reach in and get it himself, then it suddenly jumps to him stuck in the machine with a "ding" sound. Scooby and the Monster of the Week follow suit.