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Sound-Only Death
"The shield wall is down. I repeat: the shield wall is down! Sabotage! Kor did it! I knew Metal Heads would be the end of me! Oh, no! Metal Heads are at the door! They're breaking through! Too many of them! Jak..."
Vin's Famous Last Words via radio - Jak II: Renegade

The killer goes through a door, which closes behind them. Then we hear screams and gunshots. Used with those Driven to Suicide as well.

A subtrope of Gory Discretion Shot or Battle Discretion Shot. See also Scream Discretion Shot and Shadow Discretion Shot. Goes together well with the lethal variant of Mugged for Disguise. Sometimes an example of Nothing Is Scarier or Darkness Equals Death, where the scene is more disturbing because we can't see it.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked. You have been warned.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Elfen Lied: The lone survivor of a squad of guards who had been trying to kill a naked teenage girl is trapped unarmed and alone in a room with her. She crouches down in front of him as he cowers in a corner, shitting his pants in fear...
  • Noir. The Intocabile murders the family of a Mafia boss this way, after he commits treason. This was done to get around the heavy restrictions placed on gore by the network (which is why the series uses Bloodless Carnage) and it works.
    • Debatably, also the ending of the series. But most fans don't sign to this theory, as the gun-sounds in the end belong to the protagonists' guns, which at this point were destroyed.
  • The Count's death in The Castle of Cagliostro, when he's crushed by the clock tower's hands. You hear him in pain, and then a gurgle accompanied by a nasty-sounding crunch as the hands move to the 12:00 position.
  • Karyuudo Tsukishima's death in The Future Diary is heard from a walkie-talkie as Officer Kurusu shoots him point-blank.
  • Though we do see him bleed out, the actual shot that killed Maes Hughes in "Fullmetal Alchemist" is just a sound effect over a black screen.
    • Solf Kimblee's death is also a sound effect over a black screen, only this time with the sound of jaws snapping shut on him.
  • Black Lagoon. Yukio's suicide where she stabs herself in the throat with a katana. We only see Rock staring in horror (as Revy screams at him not to) and the sound of Yukio choking to death on her own blood.
  • Kaji's death in Neon Genesis Evangelion. He is standing alone somewhere and turns to say to an unknown individual, "Yo! You're a little late, aren't you?" This is followed by a gunshot over a black screen.
    • Subverted in the movie Death and Rebirth, where the gunshot is replaced by the sound of Asuka slapping Shinji out of disbelief and yelling at him when he tells her that Kaji is gone.note 
  • Occurs fairly often in Attack on Titan, specifically during the Battle of Trost. In the anime, you don't see anyone get Eaten Alive, but you sure hear it.

    Comicbooks 
  • Done in Watchmen when Rorschach went into the prison restroom and killed Big Figure.
  • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog has one in the milestone issue #225; Sonic and Sally infiltrate the newly-built Death Egg Mark II, where they are then immediately confronted by Silver Sonic Mark II. Sonic decides to fight. However, Sally runs down a corridor to trace Eggman's intercom signal, where she encounters a giant gun turret that pops out of the wall. Sonic, while still fighting Silver Sonic, hears 3 sickening loud blasts (Possibly made worse by the art detailing in the onomatopoeia of the blasts.) from outside the corridor. The only thing we see afterwards of Sally is her shattered goggles and a silhouette on the floor of her lifeless hand, as Mobius reboots itself. She's not dead...but then gets roboticized.

    Fan Works 
  • A Shadow Broker guard dies like that in Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars. He frantically tries to hide and wait for the alarms to re-activate ... we hear the shotgun blast immediately afterwards.

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi: We don't actually see Bambi's mother getting killed by the hunter. We just hear a gunshot after Bambi runs away, and later his father tells him that his mother "can't be with him anymore". Interestingly, the hunter himself is never shown in the film either.
  • Ironhide's death in Transformers: The Movie; we see Megatron standing over him, fusion cannon pointing at his head and about to discharge, and then the scene cuts to an external shot of the hijacked shuttle as we hear the iconic sound of that cannon over the ending notes of "Instruments of Destruction".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lambert's death in the first Alien movie as she gets violated by the Alien, heard over the wirecam by Ripley.
  • The James Cagney movie Angels with Dirty Faces ended this way.
  • A variation in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In the Death Star, two stormtroopers are lured inside the Millenium Falcon, then we hear blaster fire. We never see any bodies afterward, but Han and Luke walk out in their uniforms.
  • The massacre at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.
  • A rather famous scene in The Limey is this.
  • The murder scene in The War of the Worlds remake, where Tom Cruise's character goes into a nearby room to deal with the Crazy Survivalist whose actions threaten to give away their position to the invading aliens. The door closes, and....Dakota Fanning sings with her eyes closed so she won't hear the murder sounds.
  • Ultraviolet has a scene star with a closed door, gunshots, sword sounds, screams, mayhem...and then Violet comes through the door alone.
  • Occurs in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show. After Frank N Furter chases Eddie into the freezer, we see Columbia's horrified face as we hear Eddie's screams and Frank chopping him to pieces with a pick-axe.
  • In Signs, during the attack in the basement, the only lightbulb is quickly shattered; there follows several minutes of black screen, screaming and things breaking. And, indeed, it is much more disturbing than it probably would have been if we had been able to see the attack.
  • The Black Hole. The visual aspect of Durant's murder by Maximillian is hidden by the book. We only see Durant screaming in agony.
  • Done chillingly in Paranormal Activity. Katie, appearing possessed, wanders downstairs out of view, and begins screaming bloody murder. Her boyfriend runs down after her, you hear him shout, and then they're both suddenly cut off. After many agonizing seconds of silence, his body is tossed at the camera, and it's revealed that Katie had just murdered him.
  • The suicides of Hitler and Eva Braun, Mr & Mrs Goebbels and other Nazi bigwigs in Downfall. Averted with various 'minor' characters.
  • The hibernating astronauts who are murdered by evil computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Our only indication that they are dying comes from their life sign monitors, which flatline in a chorus of alarming beeps.
  • In the film adaptation of Double Indemnity the protagonist Walter is shown popping up out of the backseat of a car, the shot changes to the wife of the victim driving while the victim's neck is audibly broken. In the novel, Walter sits up in the backseat of the car and grabs his victim by the neck, the author then (through the main characters voice) states "I won't tell you what I did then. But in two seconds he was curled down on the seat with a broken neck..."
  • In Sucker Punch, there's a scene where Blue talks to all of the girls about their escape plan, which Blondie told him about. When he shoots Amber and Blondie, there's just the sounds of the gunshot and their corpses hitting the floor.
  • Hanna does this a lot- Erik Heller and Marissa Weigler are killed this way.
  • Played for comedy in Dirty Work, in the fish scene.
    Now you've taken my chainsaw, and you're using it on me!
  • Jurassic Park — The goat eaten by the T-rex, the hacker eaten by the Dilophosaurus and, most notably, Anything eaten by the Velociraptors, and for good reason- they are all eaten alive.
    • In the sequel, anyone attacked or eaten by Compys tends to receive this treatment as well.
  • In The Blair Witch Project, this is what happens to Heather because the footage is from her camera, and most likely Mike and Josh, too.
  • The Big Red One. The German protagonist is Booby Trapping a castle belonging to a countess, who reveals that she despises Hitler and offers him a sizeable bribe not to detonate the explosives. Cut to the outside of the castle and the sound of a submachine gun.
  • Millers Crossing. A slow pan across the room accompanied by "Danny Boy" playing on the gramophone, and the sound of a man gasping and his body hitting the floor, eventually reveals a dead guard in Leo's foyer, and the murderer letting in his accomplice so they can finish off their main target.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: After John Daggett fails to gain control of Wayne Enterprises, he confronts Bane. After a heated exchange, Bane swiftly turns the tables on Daggett, scaring his assistant away. Just as Bane begins to do... something to Daggett's face, the screen cuts away to the assistant, who is still close enough to hear Daggett's agonized screams. Also, Foley's death.
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, When Winston accompanies Rory Breaker to identify the thugs who robbed Rory's marijuana-growing operation. Once Winston has identified the primary culprit, as he hurries away with an armful of loot he hears gunfire.
  • The Matrix Reloaded. At the end of the fight between Neo and the Merovingian's mooks, the last mook is lying on the ground and looking up as Neo swings a polearm with a spiked end down at his head. The scene cuts to the Merovingian looking away in disgust as a "thunk" sound effect is heard.
  • Predator. As the fleeing party is being pursued by the title creature, one of them, Billy, decides to perform a You Shall Not Pass to let the others escape. As they continue along they hear his scream as the Predator kills him.
  • Serenity. When the unnamed female scientist on the video is attacked by a Reaver, it drags her down out of sight and we hear her screams as it rapes/kills/eats her.
  • Abe in Looper.
  • Licenceto Kill: When Lupa's lover has his heart cut out by Sanchez's men, we only hear his scream and briefly see his dead body later on.
  • Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, a German film about the 1943 trial and execution by guillotine of three antifascist student protestors. The screen fades to black just as the blade is released to sever Sophie's head, and we hear it rise and fall twice more, along with Hans Scholl's cry of "Es lebe die Freiheit!" (Long live freedom).
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Moriarty tells Irene Adler he has no further need of her services. She gets up and leaves, staggering slightly as she does. Cut back to Moriarty calmly sipping his tea while a crash of crockery (a later flashback scene shows she knocked over a table as she fell) signifies Irene collapsing from the poisoned tea she just drank.
  • In Targets during the massacre at the drive-in, we at one point cut to one of the car showing a child in the front passanger seat crying hysterically. The camera pans away to the driver seat where we see an dead adult. A shot is heard and the crying stops.
  • In Six: The Mark Unleashed, the massacre of the underground hideout rebels is done with only the sound of a gunshot between scenes.

    Literature 
  • In A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, the titular sound is used to refer to three things: 1) The Roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, 2) The guns that kill said Tyrannosaurus, and 3) The sound that the gun makes when aimed at the Protagonist who destroyed the present by tampering with the distant past.
  • The Guns of Navarone. Mallory tells the others how Andrea Stavros killed a roomful of Germans — entering disguised as a collaborator, breaking the lightbulb, then after the shots and screams had died he comes out the door covered in blood.
  • In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the story is told from Bella's first-person POV, so all the action is usually described through her own eyes. But when Bree is executed by the Voluturi, Bella closes her eyes, so can only describe the sounds of a vampire being dismembered.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done in The Dresden Files, where a group of vampire hunters is killed loudly and violently off-screen, while Dresden himself is locked in a room.
  • The murder of the entire Quorum in Battlestar Galactica's fourth season. We see the bodies afterwards though, and the massacre itself is a deleted scene on the DVD.
  • The suicide of the protagonist in the TV adaptation of A Perfect Spy (by John le Carré) involves him walking offscreen, then we hear a gunshot after a long pause, and then a gory shot of his body.
  • Played for Laughs with The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots, a radio Show Within a Show from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Series 3 of Torchwood. When ordered to hand over his children to a Fate Worse than Death, a civil servant requisitions a pistol, then tells his wife and two daughters to go up to their room. Once the door closes behind him, four quick shots follow.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Played for Laughs in the episode "The Sound of Drums". The Master needs a pesky reporter taken care of; one of the Toclafane materializes in the room. The Master then hurriedly leaves with his wife, and until he closes the sound-proof door, we hear screams and the sounds of horrible sharp instruments. Then, after a little while, the Master opens the door again, and screams can still be heard from inside. He closes it again, waits a bit longer ... opens the door, and the victim is still screaming ... but the next time, the room has gone quiet.
    • More Black Comedy in "The Crimson Death". When the Big Bad suffers a Disney Villain Death by falling off a rocket launching structure, the Doctor and his companions are shown wincing at the sound of her body bouncing off various metal beams before she hits the ground.
    • Harriet Jones's extermination in "The Stolen Earth".
    • Adelaide Brooke's suicide in "The Waters of Mars".
    • Also occurs in the Third Doctor story "Spearhead from Space", where an elderly couple's dog is apparently killed by an Auton, or at least spooked off. The animal is heard barking offscreen, as its mistress berates it to be quiet; this is followed by a yelp, then silence.
    • In "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone", the Weeping Angels move so quickly that this the only way they can snap the Red Shirts' necks.
    • "Image of the Fendahl": Four hands Stael a pistol, and heads to the stairs. When he reaches the top, we hear a single gunshot. The Doctor looks back, the scene changes, and the next time Stael is mentioned it's a reference to his suicide.
  • Part of what makes Haley's death in the 100th episode of Criminal Minds so horrific is that her ex-husband, Hotch, is listening to the Reaper torture her over the phone. They get a few minutes to say goodbye, and then all Hotch can hear is Foyet's gun going off.
  • Jenny Sheperd's death at the end of season 5 of NCIS. Played with in that we see part of the fight in the next episode.
  • In the second season of Jericho, one episode has Bonnie fighting off a bunch of Ravenwood goons with a shotgun. We see most of the gun battle, but when Goetz walks into the house, perspective cuts to Mimi, who is in the storage closet, slowly bleeding from a gunshot wound. We here three shots- one from Goetz's gun, which we see go through the wall a strike a shelf, one from Bonnie's shotgun, and another from Goetz, which doesn't hit the wall. Cue Mimi's stunned look as she realizes that Goetz had the last shot. We don't find out that Bonnie is dead until the very end of that episode, and we never actually see her get shot.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown", we hear but don't see Winnie the Pooh get shot by a firing squad.
    Lister: That's something no one should ever have to see.
  • Highlander:The Series never shows any decapitations, instead opting for a shot of a person swinging a sword and perhaps a *thunk* as a head hits the floor.
  • Happens fairly often in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis when (usually) bad guys try to get through the Stargate while the iris is closed.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in the Frasier episode "Are You Being Served?" when Niles, in full swing of a nervous breakdown during a messy divorce, locks himself in the bathroom and a loud BANG is heard, followed by silence. The other characters all look at each other horrified. Then Niles stumbles out, covered in foam. Martin's Hot n' Foamy had just exploded.
  • The final scene of the revived Dallas episode "The Furious and Fast" is J.R. calling John Ross and telling him he's proud of him. The last shot we see of J.R. is him slowly lowering his cell phone as he sees someone offscreen. Cut to John Ross hearing gunshots over his own cell phone and crying out for his father. Someone has once again shot J.R., and this time, he's Killed Off for Real.
  • We can hear a gunshot after the shot fades to black when Jesse shoots Gale in Breaking Bad.
  • This happens only occasionally on Cold Case, including one particularly sad case where a teenaged girl is held down by a group of biker thugs and viciously stabbed. The sounds of her screams as well as the condition of her body (in which part of the blade was imbedded inside of her) shows how much she suffered.
  • Frontline (a 1990's Australian satire of current affairs programs). In "The Siege" anchorman Mike Moore (no, not that one) interviews a hostage taker while the eponymous siege is in progress, earning high ratings for his program. Two weeks later another hostage taker rings up Moore asking for a direct interview. Moore answers the phone on live television.
    Moore: You asked to speak to me. Well you've got the whole of Australia watching and listening. What do you want?
    Hostage Taker: I want you to hear this. (screams and gunshots. Cut to credits).

    Theatre 
  • Done in Euripides's Greek myth-inspired Medea, when the eponymous character murders her children, making this trope older than dirt.
  • Kim in Miss Saigon steps into a curtained alcove to shoot herself, although she staggers out for a Died in Your Arms Tonight finish.

    Videogames 
  • Unreal. After a couple brief sightings of a Skaarj on your crashed ship, you come to a locked door. Behind the door, you hear some of the other prisoners or guards (unsuccessfully) fighting the alien. Once the door finally opens, you see the Skaarj run off, leaving a pile of what used to be people on the floor behind him.
  • Also used twice in Fable II. The Hero leaves the room where an artist is either painting or sculpting Reaver's likeness, followed by a comment about how the artist has made a mistake, and then a gunshot.
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Mendoza orders his thugs to kill William, then leaves and closes the door as gunshots are heard from behind it. We later learn that those gunshots were fired by Ray doing his Big Damn Heroes thing.
  • Iji, sector 9. Once you break Annihilator Iosa's shield, the screen cuts to black and we hear either a shotgun blast, or a laser blade strike, depending whether or not you teamed up with Ansaksie.
  • In Jedi Outcast, Desann tells Tavion to kill Kyle's friend, Jan. You can hear an activating lightsaber and then a grunt. Later, when Tavion ends up being dangled over an abyss after an enraged Kyle defeated her in a lightsaber duel, she confesses that it was all a trick to anger him and that Jan is still alive, so the trope is averted in this case.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The cutscene ends after Saren pulls out his gun on Nihlus, but the player can hear the gunshot when gameplay resumes.
    • In the DLC Bring Down the Sky, one of the missing engineers' bodies shows signs of "burn marks and concussive damage." You can listen to her final audio log: "They're trying to find a way in. I think they're attaching something to the door. If I don't make it, tell my family I love—"(sound of huge explosion).
    • Mass Effect 2 has one that's very easy to miss. If you give quarian merchant Kenn a thousand credits for his ticket off Omega and then hang around after he leaves, you hear him cry out and get cut off by a gunshot. Ouch.
    • In Mass Effect 3, if you fail to save Dr. Archer's brother David at Grissom Academy—or if you do, but decide to not tell him and let him worry—he pulls out a gun and walks away to "escape from this nightmare." Then you hear a gunshot.
  • Done in the bad ending of Wing Commander IV. Blair is taken offscreen to be executed by firing squad. "Blindfold?" "No." "Ready, aim, fire." (Gunshots, thump)
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics: Delita approaches Valmafra, sword drawn, and the "camera" pans upwards out of the scene as a scream is heard. Later on, we learn that the person in question is still alive. The game never really explain what caused the scream, but many fans speculate that Delita cut off Valmafra's tongue.
  • Rule of Rose goes its way to avoid actually showing any violence against children, so all deaths involving them happen off screen, with only screams to accompany them. Even bodies don't appear afterwards, only empty clothes, though the nature of the story justifies this rather well.
  • After defeating Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid, she's lung-shot and asks to be finished off. The camera zooms so far out that all you can see is the fog, and you hear the gunshot echo in the distance.
  • In the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake kneels in front of Big Boss's grave, puts his Springfield Operator in his mouth with one bullet, cut to black, BANG. Averted since he pulled the gun out at the last second. Good thing, too. Since Big Boss is standing right there.
  • In the first level of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, after climbing down to the ground, if you go off the screen to the right (into the city) instead of left (towards the harbor), the view doesn't change screens, and you hear sounds of violence from offscreen while your health meter slowly decreases to zero.
  • Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Worst Ending. Adell kills and devours Hanako and Taro. And you hear all the splurchy nightmare-inducing noises.
  • In The Reconstruction, the screen abruptly fades to black right before Dehl kills Havan, who we only hear screaming. This is rather odd, considering that there was a graphic Family-Unfriendly Death not much earlier, plus the fact that the game has no reason to pretend it's still a happy-go-lucky family-friendly adventure story at that point.
    • Although, it could be a way of showing that the extremely dark tone of chapter 6 is finally over, and that the story is now going to return to a more lighthearted state.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • You can find an ECHO recording of Jack strangling someone to death. He corrects someone that choking is what happens when you get food caught in your windpipe, and what he's doing is actually strangling.
    • One side quest is finding inspiration for Scooter to write a love poem. When you present it to the object of his affections, she excuses herself, walks through a door, and you hear a gunshot.
    • In the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve, you can find ECHO recordings of live human experimentation. Although for the most part it's not outright stated whether they lived or died (though they almost certainly did die), there is a case where the victim is known to have died; Tina's parents. The final recording is of Tina being instructed to use a grenade to escape. Doing Tina's "Tea Party" side quest confirms that her parents died there.
  • Happens in the third arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni where Jessica (and the reader) only hears Nanjo getting murdered by Evatrice outside the room she is in. It is as scary as it sounds especially when Evatrice begins to taunt the blinded Jessica (earlier a gun went of next to her face and she was blinded by the discharge) from the other side of the door.
  • Rise of the Triad puts up confirmation messages such as "Press Y to signal firing squad" when you go to exit the game. If you do confirm the quit out, the screen goes to black and the game plays an appropriate sound-bite ("Ready, aim, fire!" BANG!). There are several such messages, almost all of which suggest being executed (the two exceptions being driving your car over a cliff and pulling the plug on your life support), and every one with its own sound-bite.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick Redcloak takes control over Tsukiko's wights and orders them to drain her to death and then eat her corpse. Then comics provides four panels of Redcloak's face and speech bubles with Tsukiko's dying screams as he watches her die.

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Does it Twice. Yes from a Scooby Doo cartoon.
    • Ed Machine comes home to find Pericles Waiting for him. He says he wants to deliver his boss a message, Ed tells him to say it and leave... Pericles informs him that he doesn't intend for him to say anything, cut to the outside where Ed's screams and Wing flutters can be heard.
    • After Marcie "Hot Dog Water" Fleach's failed attempt at holding Pericles captive, he orders his Kriegstafflebots to execute her. They advance, open up their Gatling Guns, cut to Velma and Scooby, they hear gunshots, and Scooby starts whimpering.
    Velma: (sadly) Just keep going, Scooby...

    Real Life 
  • This must happen to 911 (999) operators from time to time.
    • Ditto for those working on Suicide Prevention Hotlines.


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Shadow Discretion ShotThis Index Happened Off ScreenVomit Discretion Shot
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