Voice for the Voiceless

"I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!"

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. When a speaking character speaks for a character or object who can't speak for itself. Can be Played for Laughs or played straight. The person/thing that cannot speak may be The Voiceless, The Speechless, a Companion Cube, a Shrinking Violet, a Cute Mute, a Heroic Mime, etc. This method of translating can be temporary or just a part of the characters' quirks. Compare Mouth of Sauron.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In Yuru-Yuri, Nishigaki-sensei does this for Rise Matsumoto, who moves her mouth but can't be heard. Nishigaki-sensei will then tell the other characters what she said, or if they're by themselves will comment on whatever discussion they're having at the time.
  • In Baccano!, Claire Stanfield picks up the habit of speaking for his fiancee Chane, who is unable to talk. Being Claire, most people assume he's just making her responses up until she confirms that he does, in fact, know exactly what she's thinking.
  • In an episode of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Sousuke has to train a group of yakuza soldiers for an upcoming fight. But since he has to go disguised as the cute mascot Bonta-kun, who can only use Pokémon Speak, Kaname has to serve as his interpretor.
  • Pokémon: Since Team Rocket's Meowth is the only Pokemon that can speak human (more or less), he often fills this role when a Pokemon wants to speak to a human (usually the heroes). Sometimes he is a willing translator, and sometimes a psychic Pokemon will take over his body.
  • Happens twice in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun:
    • Nozaki does this as a joke when Mikoshiba and Sakura first meet his quiet younger brother Mayu. Nozaki says Mayu will respond if one talks to him, so Sakura tries talking to him - and Nozaki is the one who answers her, and adds, "Through me."
    • When Kashima catches the cold and is made to rest her voice, she talks by writing in her notepad and having other people read in her stead. Mikoshiba first talks for her but is too embarrassed half the time, and then Hori gives it a shot but ends up Throwing Out the Script and adlibs.

    Comedy 
  • Gabriel Iglesias's wife once berated him for not answering his phone by theatrically describing his sins to the family dog in front of him. Since Iglesias's signature gimmick is his excellent mimicry, this proved to be a mistake.
    Fluffy: [to dog] Mommy shouldn't have played this game, because we can play it too, and we can play it better, 'cause I can make you talk back to me!

    Film 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    Mr. Gibbs:...so he trained the parrot to talk for him. No-one's yet figured how...
    Parrot: [squawk] Wind in the sails! Wind in the sails!
    Mr. Gibbs: Mostly, we figure, that means "yes."
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Sri Sumbhajee always whispers to his aides, who then speak for him. At the end of the council, perhaps to make the point more clear, he speaks up for himself... revealing an extremely high-pitched voice, explaining why he usually has others speak in his place.
  • Dogma: The Metatron speaks on behalf of God, since His voice is so powerful that human beings cannot hear it without their mind caving in and their heart exploding ("We went through five Adams before we figured that one out").
  • In Mystery Men, The Bowler does this for her father, the original Bowler, whose soul resides in a bowling ball.
  • In Frozen:
    • When Elsa and Anna first built Olaf as children, Elsa provided a funny voice for Olaf ("Hi, I'm Olaf and I love warm hugs!") to make Anna laugh.
    • Kristoff likes to "communicate" with his pet reindeer Sven using a goofy voice.

    Literature 
  • Ender Wiggin in Orson Scott Card's Enderverse novels Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead. He speaks for the dead Buggers and several dead humans.
  • George RR Martin's Haviland Tuf in "Guardians". He speaks for the mudpots of the planet Namor, who are secretly behind the planetary ecosystem's war against the human colonists (the colonists were eating the mudpots without realizing they were sapient).
  • Alternately parodied and played straight several times in various Discworld novels, especially those with Vimes. In Night Watch, Reg Shoe thinks he's speaking for the People, but Vimes reflects that the People would "clip [him] round the ear if they found [him] doing it". However, Vimes is quoted as using this line straight himself in the earlier book Feet of Clay ("Commander Vimes says someone has to speak for those who have no voices!"), and in The Wee Free Men, Tiffany Aching recalls her grandmother expressing a similar sentiment.
  • Dr. Seuss' character, The Lorax, who provides the page quote.
  • In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Rashid Kahlifa can understand Abhinaya, the Gesture Language, and thus interprets for Mudra the Shadow Warrior.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Lizzie McGuire, Matt is the only one who can understand his silent friend Lanny.
    • Although all but Matt consider Lanny to be The Voiceless, Matt repeatedly tells others that he finds it hard to get a word in edgewise when conversing with his friend.
  • Riva, a deaf mediator who appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Loud as a Whisper," traveled with a telepathic "chorus" that spoke for him. When they are killed in an assassination attempt, he has no way of communicating until Data builds a library to interpret his sign language, and the episode ends with Riva intending to teach his sign language to the warring parties. Why Riva did not simply write what he wanted to say was never addressed (the script implies that he and his family are illiterate).
  • Raj from The Big Bang Theory literally Can Not Talk To Women unless he's drunk. Thankfully for him, his Heterosexual Lifepartner Howard has his back as the guy he whispers what needs to be said to...most of the time. Sometimes though Howard's annoyed come back is all the translation the audience needs.
    • Other times Howard will blatantly lie about what Raj said since he knows Raj can't contradict him out loud.
  • From the Mr. Bill segments of Saturday Night Live, Sluggo hated Mr. Bill, but Sluggo himself never seemed to speak, so Mr. Hands would tell Mr. Bill what Sluggo says, as well as carry out whatever harm Sluggo wanted to befall on Mr. Bill.

    Music 
  • Rage Against The Machine have a song called "Voice of the Voiceless," which is about Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the case of wrestlers who can't walk or have poor mic skills, it's very common to pair these wrestlers with a manager who cuts the promos on their behalf.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Shadowrun dragons can use a form of telepathy but can't speak the way humans can. They will choose a metahuman to translate their thoughts into speech when necessary, such as television appearances.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battles, the council of thirteen of the Skaven has the Grey Seers' seated member intercept their god's will; this really gives the Grey Seers a second vote in all matters.

    Video Games 
  • Near the end of Mother 3, the recurring villain Fassad receives an interpreter robot after he's upgraded to some sort of half-mechanical nightmare out of the Book of Revelations. He can only communicate through horns.
  • There's a funny little side-story in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness that culminates in someone speaking for an inanimate object. Dugtrio is obsessed with the VAAAAST SEA, often shirking work to go talk at it. One day, it answers back, telling Dugtrio that it really wishes they would get back to work... which, of course, turns out to be Loudred throwing his voice at the request of Dugtrio's son.
  • In Ōkami, Amaterasu cannot speak to mortals, so her sidekick Issun speaks for her.
  • Caim from Drakengard forged a spiritual bond with a dragon and lost his voice as the price. Fortunately, his dragon can communicate telepathically with him and is sometimes willing to voice his thoughts to others.
  • In Zelda games, Link's Exposition Fairies tend to do most of the dialog for him (except for some question-answering). In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where an Exposition Fairy is notably absent, there will always be at least two other people in the cutscenes, so the one closer to him can take over the talking.
  • Chibi-Robo can only communicate with simple Yes or No responses so his "manager" Telly does the talking when necessary.
  • Classic Tails speaks on Classic Sonic's behalf in Sonic Generations.
  • This is what Mario's partners are for him in the Paper Mario games especially in Thousand Year Door where there's tons of dialog between characters in the story, it's different depending on which partner you have out as it always reflects their personality but the basic story and their and Mario's current goal stay same.
  • Jonner is this for Mr. Blix in Freelancer while Trent is searching for von Klausen on New Berlin.
  • Arngeir in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim speaks for the other three Greybeards as their voice is powerful enough that if they try to speak to a normal person, they might kill them.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Misha serves as an interpreter for the deaf-mute Shizune, who uses sign language. Some of Misha's own personality quirks occasionally get in the way, though.

    Webcomics 
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, there are supposedly specially trained telepaths meant to give people suffering from Silent Protagonist Syndrome the ability to answer questions for game shows. Supposedly because the only one we see is the "Dodongo Dislike Smoke" old man, who speaks exclusively in his indecipherable lines from the game.

    Web Original 
  • In A Miracle of Science, since the inhabitants of Mars are part of a collective consciousness, it is considered to be a Genius Loci, and thus every citizen speaks for the planet as a whole. This gets interesting once one of the Martians takes an interest in the main character.
    Caprice: Mars likes you.
    Benjamin: That's like saying, "Brazil thinks you're cute."
    • Mars can speak directly if it wants to, it just usually doesn't because most outsiders find their Martian friend suddenly becoming a black-eyed echo-voiced avatar of the Hive Mind to be somewhat off-putting.
  • Mako Tsunami from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Mako talks for (and eventually marries, separates from and gets back together with) the ocean.
  • After being shot in the throat, Maine from Red vs. Blue can no longer speak, so Carolina gives him her AI Sigma to speak for him. Whether or not Sigma's words accurately reflect what Maine means to say is an excellent question.
  • Played for Laughs in Project Voicebend, where Bolin provides a voice for Pabu which for some reason is more normal sound than his normal voice.

    Western Animation 
  • Friend Bear speaks for Secret Bear in all appearances in the Care Bears. The only episode that Friend Bear doesn't appear alongside Secret Bear, Secret finds it most difficult to get the other bears to understand what he's saying.
  • Soundwave uses something of a variant. When he has to say something, he plays back a recording of something another character said earlier.
  • Deaf mermaid Gabriela in The Little Mermaid has her octopus friend Ollie translate her sign language.
  • Since B is silent, Dawn in Total Drama Revenge of the Island would speak on his behalf when he is communicating his plans to his team.
  • Bob gives speech to Lance, a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • The American Dad! episode "Gorillas in the Mist" has a zoo gorilla's trainer translate his sign language. Likewise the gorilla's father is translated by the trainer's father.

    Real Life 
  • The "voice for the voiceless" is sometimes meant metaphorically — to say that someone will speak on behalf of an individual or group whose concerns are certainly capable of being voiced, but are ignored or disrespected by a more powerful group. The one doing the speaking will often refer to himself/herself (often accurately) as one who is more than capable of equaling if not more than equaling the opposing group.
  • Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, though mostly silent, can occasionally become this.
  • It goes without saying that for those who are mute or are incapable of communicating in a way other than sign language, they'll most likely have someone who can translate sign language.