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Beat Panel

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A silent panel in Sequential Art. Usually the next-to-last panel in a serialized comic strip, since it approximates the comedic pause before a punchline.

Particularly efficient comic artists may copy and paste adjacent panels, since the point of the Beat Panel is usually that the characters are frozen in contemplation. Another variation is to have two beat panels, with just a quizzical change of expression in the second to show a character's confusion (more likely to happen in a four-panel strip than a three-panel strip). It can also be unusually long to indicate a long beat.

Compare Silent Scenery Panel. A Beat is the (un)spoken version. Not to be confused with Narrative Beats.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • The manga of uses these a lot, often at the end of the comic when the gag is a lack of action. These usually translate to (often hilarious) stretches of awkward silence in the anime. One of the more memorable ones:
      Panel 1: Chiyo: Oh, Sakaki, you're here already! It'll be an hour before the others get here!
      Panel 2: Sakaki: It's okay... I'll wait outside... with Mr. Tadakichi...
      Panels 3 and 4: [the same image of Sakaki, perfectly content, sitting under a tree with Mr. Tadakichi]
    • An example of how they translate this: in the anime, during the same scene, the camera stays focused on Sakaki as every other main character walks into Chiyo's house.
  • Witchcraft:
    • This Hentai manga uses it to great comedic effect. Kagami is trying to get Kaoru to relax so she can effectively hypnotize him (Mildly NSFW text):
      Kagami: Well, the easiest way is that relaxed state right after ejaculation. All right, ejaculate.
      Kaoru: Right...
      [beat panel]
      Kaoru: ... ... Ejaculate?
      Kagami: Yes.
      Kaoru: You mean where it ... squirts out?
      Kagami: That's right. Now hurry up.
    • Later in the same comic, Sara hypnotizes Kaoru into "raping" Megumi as punishment for Megumi's Heel–Face Turn. Several panels with Sara looking increasingly distressed and a caption of "thirty minutes later" with nobody feeling particularly punished, Sara finally tells them to cut it out.
  • Happens in Corsair manga, where the princess of a powerful pirate group finally announces to her family that she intends to wed their mysterious and very pretty strategist, Kanale (or Canale... Or Kanare... take your pick). Cue their right-hand Master Swordsman, Ayase, who rarely shows any emotion at all, speak the following:
    Ayase: I never said I approved (of you choosing Kanale). In fact there's another problem before all this: Kanale already belongs to me.
    [the silence goes on for multiple panels]
  • There's one early on in the Battle Royale manga. Shuya asks Noriko how she can trust him so easily. She says "You didn't peek at my panties." Cue the ellipsis and possibly the only funny moment in the story.
  • Lone Wolf and Cub probably sets a record. The last chapter contains the same Beat Panel eight times across multiple pages. It underscores how dramatic the moment is; the implication is that the moment was practically endless for all watching.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: In Spotlight: Trailcutter, Whirl uses three identical Beat Panels to "imitate" Tailcutter's "grotesque Forcefield Face." Whirl is a faceless Empurata victim.
  • Baki the Grappler:
    • Taken to an extreme in Baki Dou. When Motobe visits Yuujiro (essentially the most powerful and undefeatable creature on Earth) and warns him that Musashi is too strong an opponent for him, we get a whole page of nothing but identical beat panels, depicting Yuujiro's face with a look that says "this is the single dumbest thing I've heard in my entire life."
    • Happens again in a later chapter, when Donald Trump learns that each president of the United States must swear an oath of non-aggression to Yuujiro. The result is a whole page of beat panels depicting Trump's incredulous face.

    Comic Books 
  • Christopher Priest (comics) might well be the Trope Codifier. Quantum and Woody, Black Panther, and pretty much everything else he wrote were rife with beat panels. The impressive thing was that as often as he used them, they never got stale or overdone; he knew exactly when and where to use them.
  • The Keith Giffen/J. M. DeMatteis comedy incarnation of Justice League used this all the time, sometimes featuring entire Beat Pages.
  • J.M. DeMatteis's run on Spectacular Spider-Man featured a beat page — but it wasn't funny, rather it was one of the creepiest pages ever seen in a comic book.
  • Used excessively in Invincible, then Lampshaded when the main character gets his comics signed by an artist who comments on his use of copying and pasting panels.
  • In the comic Teen Titans, after Beast Boy asked Raven to go with him on a "not-a-date", there was a beat panel before Raven said "Let's go".
  • In an Invincible Iron Man issue, Pepper Potts admits to Maria Hill that she slept with Tony. A shocked Maria Hill admits that she also slept with Tony a few days before Potts. Follows a succession of panels with both looking shocked, each at each other, and then each looking down, visibly angry. After that, Hill mutters a simple "Tony Stark. Tony fucking Stark."
  • One of the traditions of a super team crossover is having a few B-List (or even major) villains crash the headquarters seeking revenge, then a beat panel as they realize there are quite a few more super heroes than they expected.
  • Peter David enjoys regular use of these. The Madrox mini-series contained a number of examples.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Scott asks Wallace what the website for is. Wallace gets his beat panel with a dumbfounded look and a series of ellipses and responds "....".
  • During the Joss Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men, the morning after Peter Rasputin and Kitty Pryde finally make love, they meet with Wolverine in the kitchen. Two beat panels follow; one where Wolverine looks at Peter, and one where he looks at Kitty. He then returns to his breakfast, muttering, "'Bout time."
  • Two separate pages of these in the Twilight Sparkle Micro Series issue, indicating the awkward silence between Jade and Twilight during their meals.
  • Kevin Maguire specializes in multi-panel closeups of characters trying not to break down in laughter. note 
  • A noticeable, though not exactly comedic, example occurs in The Wicked + The Divine. Annie tells the cops not to follow her, immediately turns into Badb and threatens them, and then dissolves into crows. After that happens, everybody stares at where she was standing for a moment before a total riot breaks out.
  • Brian Michael Bendis is fond of using beat panels. One example in Invincible Iron Man has Tony Stark holding out his hand for Doctor Strange to high-five him for four panels before the Sorcerer Supreme reluctantly gives in, prompting Stark to shout "Awesome facial hair bros" to Strange's dismay.
    • Bendis likes beat panels so much he practically gave it one of his characters as a superpower. Miles Morales has a Venom Blast that activates a few seconds after physical contact with an opponent. Said foe will maybe be a little confused as to why Spider-Man just finger-poked them, then spasm wildly as the bioelectric stock courses through their system. All while Miles watches on with his big white spider eyes. In another indicator of the sheer Bendis-ity of this, the Venom Blast takes effect instantly under nearly every other creative team who's used Miles.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls story "Powerful Pretty" (DC #36), Bubbles' face is smeared with makeup (part of a Sedusa plot). When she turns to Buttercup, there is a beat panel of Buttercup staring in disbelief, followed by a panel of her laughing her head off.
    • "Like It Or Lumpkins" (DC #33) shows two beat panels of Fuzzy Lumpkins standing on his "propitty" after chasing the girls off—they came to retrieve a Mojo Jojo device that had landed on Fuzzy but Fuzzy says it's his since it landed on his property. After the two beat panels, the girls return:
    Girls: Pleeeeease?!?
    Fuzzy: Ah said gitt!!
  • Happens twice in Sonicthe Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Collide whenever somebody gets confused about the two characters named Shadow Man (One is the robot master from Mega Man 3, the other is the roboticized Shadow the Hedgehog.)
    • The first time is when Eggman and Wily opt to send Shadow Man at the Heroes... both of them.
      Eggman: Still, I'm sending Shadow Man to intercept our main problem.
      Wily: You mean... my Shadow Man or our Shadow Man?
      (beat, with Eggman and Wily glancing at each other with an eyebrow raised)
      Both doctors: Both!
    • The second time, it's Sonic and Mega Man confronting the robots, and their names being the same causes confusion between the heroes.
      Sonic: Okay, I've got the naming convention down. You're—
      Sonic and Mega Man, at the same time: Shadow Man!
      (beat, with robot and hedgehog giving each other confused glances).
  • Beasts of Burden: At the end of "The Gathering Storm", after the gang has just been sworn into the Wise Dog Society as junior apprentices, most of them suddenly realize that they need to get home and practically trip over each other rushing off. There's a panel of the remaining characters (Red, Emrys, Miranda and the Orphan) silently watching them go before the Orphan dryly remarks, "I feel safer already."
  • Loop: After the blue twin tries to attack her sister in the past but ends up just leaving her alone in the present, the red twin is left just standing there alone for a couple panels, letting the failure sink in.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pretty much every comic has used this at some point. It's been around since the early days of comics, but it really took off in the '60s and '70s, when a new generation of cartoonists raised on films and television sought to make their comics more cinematic. Doonesbury is often credited with popularizing the beat, and it remains one of the most frequent users of this trope.
  • A comic strip by David Lynch was almost entirely made up of beat panels. The same ones. For ten years.
  • Life in Hell occasionally uses these to an extreme. Matt Groening refers to these as "all those Akbar and Jeff strips where they stare at each other." Keep in mind there were often dozens of panels to a page.
  • Herman used this panel often, and sometimes so many at once that only one panel had any dialogue in it.
  • Interestingly, The Far Side occasionally pulled this off in a one-panel strip. The visual was some awkward situation, while the punchline came in the caption.
  • Discussed as well as demonstrated in this Barney & Clyde strip seen here.
  • A frequent occurrence in Concyt, usually involving either Conchy or Oom Paul pondering whatever idiocy or insanity has just been presented to them before passing wry judgement.
  • Sometimes happens in Retail. In this strip, Cooper even asks if the trope is overused.

    Fan Works 
  • ''Defragmentation: One comic has a dialogue-less panel between Pink catching Spamton going through their wallet and Spamton deciding to Eat the Evidence.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has quite a few moments where everyone sits in silence after what the witness has just said.
    Phoenix: .....
    Edgeworth: .....
    Judge: .....
    Everyone Else: .....

    Web Comics 

    Web Original