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Smash to Black
Before a commercial, television shows have traditionally done a Fade to Black. Recently, though, television dramas skip the fading and cut the picture to a completely black screen. Typically, a Smash to Black will immediately follow a shocking moment such as a Cliff Hanger, a Commercial Break Cliffhanger, or a Cold Opening, but can also follow a One-Liner or a moment of Deadpan Snark. Expect this to be called "Older Than The DVD" thirty years down the road.

Named for the Smash Cut, of which this is a subtrope.

Examples:

Anime

Film

Live-Action TV
  • Joss Whedon apparently loves this trope, using it with all his shows:
    • Angel,
    • [1],
    • Dollhouse
    • Firefly,
      • Joss mentions in the commentary for Firefly that in order to avoid the automatic cuing of the commercial, they changed the color of the blackout, so Smash to Black became Smash to Almost Black But Really Just Very Dark Brown.
  • Criminal Minds ended the fourth season like this (and on a major cliffhanger).
  • Everybody Hates Chris ended its series this way as well, mainly as a Shout-Out to The Sopranos.
  • LOST does this with just about every major or minor plot twist. In other words, a lot.
  • Season 5 of Mad Men ends this way, just after a woman propositions Don Draper. It's probably a tribute/Shout-Out to The Sopranos (on which Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was a writer and producer).
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this in nearly every episode, complete with a door-slamming sound effect.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus had one episode ("Michael Ellis", 1974) in which the actors were discussing how to end the show.
    "Well, how about a sudden ending?" CUT
  • Skins smashes to black so often that the one time they did the fade out (Katie's S4 episode) it stood out (and some people suspected the fade out to be a lengthening device to cover up time lost from cut scenes).
  • Infamously, The Sopranos ended the series this way, with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" cutting off mid-word.
  • Supernatural does this frequently, as observed on Television Without Pity:
    "METAL TEETH CHOMP!"
    "End scene." (monster boots Dean in the face. Smash Cut to commercials.)

Video Games
  • The Beatles: Rock Band does this with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," befitting how the song itself ends.
  • BioShock Infinite ends in a similar way to the Mass Effect example above. The actions in the final scene coincide with the soundtrack, cutting to black with the final piano note. And by actions, I mean every version of Elizabeth (one of the two main characters) in the multiverse disappearing from existence before the camera, smashing into black with the last one—the one you've grown to know throughout the game. Did I mention Elizabeth just drowned her father at his own request? Bio Shock is just that kind of franchise.
  • Done in The Stanley Parable as well, sometimes out of nowhere, usually to indicate something bad has happened, and always to great effect.
  • Mass Effect 3 ends like this, with the Smash to Black coinciding with the final note in the ending music.
  • The Star Wars video game Republic Commando ends with this, with the door of the gunship that the protagonist squad is in slamming shut after Boss says "Delta Squad! Lock and load!"

Western Animation
  • Adventure Time does this at the end of each episode.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses this in many act breaks.
  • The Simpsons was perhaps the first show to do this consistently. Most act breaks avoided fadeouts, in part because they usually end acts on a gag and it is thought a fadeout would detract from its impact.
    • To combat the automatic commercial problem noted above, most Simpsons episodes have a fadeout artificially added when they air in syndication. This can be problematic since often there is plot or a joke happening up to the very last second of an act, so the fadeout often begins while the action is still occurring.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants shorts end in this manner on a regular basis.
    • "The Krabby Patty secret formula ió"

Real Life

The Sacred DarknessTropes in BlackVan in Black
Smash CutScript SpeakThe Tag

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