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Elective Mute

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Archie: What's the matter, sis? Can't you talk?
Paul: No, Robin doesn't talk much.
Archie: Well, what does Robin do, chirp? How does she communicate to people?
Paul: You see, Robin thinks words are a waste of time, so she speaks with her eyes.
Archie: Oooh! Well, open up wide and let's hear the Gettysburg address.

Whereas speechless characters don’t talk because they are physically incapable of speech, these characters can speak, but for some reason choose not to, instead using sign language or other methods of communication. The reasons for this may vary: in most cases, it is either due to some sort of personal beliefs (like a religious vow of silence or a philosophical concept that "words are useless") or a psychological trauma. Or in fantasy or superhero settings, the character's voice might have special powers that makes it dangerous for them to speak. Downplayed if they only speak to a few selected individuals.

A specific variant of the trope is when the character is actually mute due to some medical condition, but refuses a cure for the said condition.

Compare The Quiet One; some examples may overlap between these two. Also compare The Silent Bob, Cannot Talk to Women, Elective Unintelligible and Elective Broken Language. Contrast The Voiceless, who presumably does speak, but we never hear their voice onscreen, and Dumb Struck, which is for when a character is traumatized into mutism.

For more examples of this trope, check out a thematic category on The Other Wiki.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After God: Akio has his mouth taped off for personal reasons of hiding his snake mouth and can only speak in gestures in public.
  • Toda Seiko from Ah... and Mm... Are All She Says overlaps with The Quiet One; she can speak, but is "slow at arranging her thoughts", so she mostly speaks in grunts. Tanaka is the only one who can understand her.
  • In the early parts of Bunny Drop, Rin falls into this. At first, the only one who she opens up to is Daikichi, in part because he resembles his grandfather (who is also Rin's father), and in part because he's at first the only adult who seems at all concerned for her well-being. It's most strongly demonstrated when, after slowly but surely opening up to others, Daikichi takes Rin to see his mother and father over the new year's holiday — and Rin immediately clams up again, remembering the harsh treatment she had previously received.
  • Hakko from Canaan turns out to be this. Her Borner power resides in her voice, which releases lethal and very powerful waves; it can cause brain damage on those who hear it, and destroy any buildings/materials/etc. in her surroundings. For worse, the audience finds out after she's tricked by Liang Qi into killing her boss and love interest Santana.
  • Kisa Sohma from Fruits Basket refuses to speak at all when she's first introduced, due to her classmates bullying her by laughing whenever she tried to say anything. After experiencing Tohru's kindness and encouragement, she eventually opens up and starts speaking more often.
  • Isabelle from Innocents Shounen Juujigun is implied to be this, as she's said to be mute but speech easily returns to her after meeting Etienne. She tells Guy and Nicolas that, after she and Etienne made love, the desire and will to speak were pretty much overflowed into her.
  • When Rin first appears in Inuyasha, she's mute, having refused to speak since being orphaned. She begins speaking again soon after she starts traveling with Sesshomaru.
  • Part of the central premise of Komi Can't Communicate. Shouko Komi, the main character, is a perfect Yamato Nadeshiko on the outside, but inside she's a Shrinking Violet who's completely incapable of communicating with others. She does speak every now and then, mainly when alone with Tadano, but most of the time she communicates either via notepad or via Tadano reading her body language and explaining to everyone else what she's thinking. In pure contrast, her brother Shousuke is perfectly capable of speech, but usually never chooses to do so.
  • Koji Koda from My Hero Academia is a Shrinking Violet who rarely ever speaks, usually preferring to communicate with sign language. Ironically, his Quirk is voice-based, as he has the ability to speak to and command animals.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: In Misato's backstory, she watched her father die protecting her during the Second Impact. The experience left her so thoroughly traumatized that she was mute for two years.
  • One Piece: Donquixote Rocinante, the second Corazon, returned to his brother Doflamingo without saying any word, so Doflamingo wrongly assumed that his little brother became mute due to their shared childhood trauma. Corazon remained mute around the Donquixote Family, which helped him of maintaining his cover. When the Family learned about his fake muteness, he revealed to them it's because he didn't want to exchange words with any of them.
  • San Otonashi from Rosario + Vampire likewise writes on a notepad instead of speaking, because her voice can kill anybody who hears it.
  • One of the traditions binding the shrine maiden Touka in Shindere Shoujo to Kodoku na Shinigami is that she is absolutely forbidden from speaking with any man regardless of the circumstances, up to and including her own brother. The sole exception is her husband, when she chooses to take one.
  • Sket Dance:
    • Switch never speaks with his real voice. Instead, he uses a (very realistic) speech synthesizer, which he controls from the computer keyboard (it also sounds exactly like his real voice so viewers don't need to imagine what he sounds like). When his laptop stops working in one story, he relies on a notepad to talk to his friends (to their annoyance, who pester him to just talk normally). His Dark and Troubled Past confirms that he can speak but refuses to; this is because he blames himself for the death of his younger brother (who was the one who made the text-to-speech synthesizer) and is unable to move on from the tragedy. At the end of the series, he finally gains the courage to start speaking again, and even delivers the graduation speech at the school assembly.
    • Switch's counterpart in the Pocket Dan, Smile, avoids talking so that he can improve his miming. Tact and Silk have to interpret whatever he is trying to say to other people, and other times he'll use a board or a notebook to speak to others.
  • Megumi on Special A writes on a notepad to communicate in order to protect her singing voice, which as a result is devastatingly powerful. She does speak a few times, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Also, in Endless Nights, Delirium's story "Going Inside" features a girl who does not speak after being raped. Towards the end of the comic she is shown as recovering and speaking after helping to find Delirium.
  • T'Jbang from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) has taken an oath of silence for reasons known only by Storm Shadow. He has abandoned the vow by the time of G.I. Joe (Devil's Due), as the writers found redundant to have another mute ninja with Snake-Eyes around.
  • Black Bolt of The Inhumans. He can talk, but chooses not to since his voice is as powerful as a nuke, and usually uses his wife, Medusa, as his translator.
  • In one Knights of the Dinner Table story, Bob and Dave's characters disguise themselves as acolytes to sneak into a temple and steal a (supposedly) valuable relic. When confronted by a suspicious guard, they try to evade his questions: "I tell him we've taken a vow of silence."
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Blossom takes a vow of silence in "Sounding Off" as a means to make Bubbles and Buttercup, who constantly pester her with their bickering, solve their own problems.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • The angel Duma is the Guardian of Silence; however, he continues to be silent after the Creator gives him a new function as co-ruler of Hell. (This is based on Jewish folklore which casts Duma as ruler of Gehenna, as his name is one of the biblical synonyms for the underworld, and in fact means "silence" in Hebrew.) He is nonetheless able to communicate through facial expressions and gestures and, in Lucifer, even in discrete words through telepathy. In the latter comic, he finally breaks his silence in order to stop co-ruler Remiel from tearing apart Rudd's soul and to appoint Rudd as the new ruler of Hell.
    • In the Phil Foglio version of Stanley and His Monster, Duma "speaks" by showing little notes to his colleagues.
    • In The Doll's House Chantal always speaks for her partner Zelda who has a really bad stutter. In The Kindly Ones, Zelda is forced to speak for herself, Chantal having died in the intervening years.
  • Kevin from Sin City never says a word on panel, his father Cardinal Roark informs Marv that he only talks to him. He also adds that Kevin's voice is immensely beautiful.
  • The View Askewniverse: Silent Bob would be an example.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1, Judgment In Infinity :The Adjudicator lets his thoughts and subsequent actions do the talking for him, which infuriates Diana given he's decided to destroy every version of earth and all inhabitants.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In the story "The Six Swans", collected by the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen among others, a Fallen Princess must make six shirts out of nettles and can't make a sound for seven years or the spell that transformed her six brothers into swans will never be broken. She manages to keep all of these conditions and gets to break the spell.
  • In Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "The Three Flowers", Katie accidentally triggers a curse which transforms her brothers into deers. In order to break the curse, she does not speak a single word for seven years, not even when she is falsely accused of eating her children.

    Fan Works 
  • In Before The Dawn, after being turned into a vampire and escaping Joham, Bella spends some time in silence after meeting the Cullens, until she misinterprets Carlisle’s assurances about what she would have had to do to survive as condoning the idea that she killed people.
  • In Burning Coals, Neo has troubles trusting others and doesn't like people even hearing her voice. The only one she can talk to is her father figure Roman. With everyone else, she uses her scroll to text.
  • Mirror, the mini-con, from Cardcaptor Rad. He can presumably speak, since it's shown he's able to talk to Sideways somehow, but it's stated that Mirror doesn't talk to anyone else, even when the situation calls for it.
  • A Choker And A Scalpel revolves around the vow of silence Black Canary had for five years. She stopped speaking after she accidentally deafened a few of her classmates in first grade by using her super scream, and she stopped her silence in order to save her mother by using said power.
  • Couturiere: Lila opts to never speak again after being traumatized by the titular akuma sewing her mouth shut.
  • Rajotel in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. He took a vow of public silence several years ago and communicates via sign language in public, or will whisper in his partner Quill's ear if he absolutely must.
  • The Legend of Miraculous, Link has never been able to talk to Zelda, to the point that they both end up learning sign language because she thinks he's completely mute. Zelda only finds out the truth after she starts school with him. Link has no such problem talking to Zelda's superhero form Athena, nor when he meets Zelda as Sheikhan Wolf.
  • Neither Wit Nor Words Nor Worth is a Firefly fic where an explosion leaves Jayne nearly deaf. He can’t hear well enough to know how loud his voice is, so he chooses to rely more on writing and signs than talking.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The Questioning Order is noted to rarely say anything due to their desire to prevent any changeling infiltrations. This was proven during their founding, when they allowed many of their order to be killed without making a sound in response. They can and do speak behind soundproof barriers, but in the presence of others, they use only sign language (and react angrily when anyone outside their group can translate it).
  • In Passing Days for Fate/Grand Order, Dr. Roman discovers Vy displaying a version of the trope, as she only chooses not to speak when she's tired, conserving energy as a result. Considering the amount of material farming and fighting that is needed to keep up Chaldea's facilities and the fight against Goetia and later the Foreign God, it is portrayed as both understandable and an undeniable consequence of the last bastion of Humanity relying on a single person to save them.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Defenders of Warmth, Vulpix is this because of her social awkwardness and amnesia, choosing to only talk to Bulbasaur and, later, Isola. Anyone else she only speaks to when spoken to. This changes after she remembers her human life.
  • In the Firefly fic Salvage Mission, Jayne Cobb is assumed to be mute or somehow impaired when he’s tortured by the alliance and sold into slavery. He never speaks in the six years he’s there and gets called “the idjit”. When Mal finally locates him and comes to rescue him, Jayne finally speaks to him, and Mal feels like clobbering the owner for saying they should’ve hit Jayne harder. Only the fact he’s alone and it would be suicide keep Mal from exacting revenge. It’s implied part of Jayne’s not speaking might be related to the trauma he endured as well.
  • In Silence is Golden the entire Greengrass family is like this, to the point where Daphne and Harry's daughter doesn't make any noises after her birth. Even Harry eventually stops speaking, except for when he's teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.
  • sunflower: As part of his cover, Gai doesn't speak at all when he's acting as the ANBU agent Nezumi.
  • After the trauma of killing Ganondorf by hand and ending the war, Zelda is left mute for a period in Their Bond.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The titular character of Andrei Rublev atones for killing a man by taking a vow of silence. It takes 15 years until he breaks his silence.
  • Ave Maria revolves around a convent in Palestine in which the nuns have taken vows of silence. This proves to be a problem when a Jewish family crashes their car right outside the convent, and they come in looking for assistance.
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; in the film it's mentioned he took a vow of silence after Storm Shadow apparently killed their master. Originally, the end of the movie was going to have him speak to tell a joke, but it was cut.
  • Michael Myers from the Halloween movies.note  This is emphasised in Halloween (2018), where his refusal to explain his motives — or indeed, say anything at all — frustrates anyone trying to understand him.
  • In Harry and Tonto Harry's grandson, a practicing Buddhist has taken a vow of silence and communicates only by gestures or scribbling on a notepad. When Harry meets him for a second time near the end of the movie he's started speaking again.
  • The Korean Hi Dharma! comedy movies, about Buddhist monks in a modern society, has one monk under a vow of silence, Played for Laughs.
  • Peter in Jumanji, who talks to no one but his older sister Judy ever since their parents' death by car accident. Once Alan gets out of the game and finds his parents are also dead, Peter starts talking to him as well.
  • Dwayne of Little Miss Sunshine begins the film as this because he's taken a vow of silence until he can join the Air Force Academy. However, he begins speaking regularly after finding out he's color-blind and thus can't become a pilot. His first word is a very loud "FUCK!"
  • Played for Laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian, as Brian encounters one by falling into the same hole as him — he'd managed to keep silent for decades until Brian toppled onto him, causing him to cry out in pain, then an even larger cry of anguish at having broken his vow.
  • In None Shall Escape, Anna stops talking for three weeks after being raped. It's not until Marja returns from Warsaw and starts guilt-tripping her about letting an innocent man be punished for the crime unless she sets the record straight that she starts talking again.
  • Persona (1966): Elisabet has been sent to recuperate after suddenly deciding to stop speaking; the number of times she speaks during the film can be counted on one hand and all of them may just be imagined by the characters.
  • In The Piano, the protagonist Ada has been mute by choice since her childhood.
  • The Third Saturday In October Part V: Jack Harding never speaks, though he does giggle wordlessly on occasion. In the sequel, Film/The Third Saturday In October Part I, it's revealed that he's never spoken a word after being arrested for his initial murders.
  • Katy and Christopher from Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? clam up at the orphanage, but they start talking as soon as they're at Aunt Roo's manor.
  • Women Talking: Melvin, a trans teenage boy who looks after all the other kids in the colony, chooses to not speak after his rape from when he identified as a girl named Nettie. He speaks in the latter part of the film when they address him by his chosen name though.

  • In Baccano!, Chané Laforet is a variation. She is physically mute, but she actually asked her father to make her a mute so that she would never betray his secrets. Her Love Interest Claire doesn't mind though; he thinks her inability to talk is kinda hot.
  • The 5th Wave: Poundcake doesn't talk due to his mother's last words being a Big "SHUT UP!".
  • The aptly named wizard Silent from The Black Company novels certainly qualifies. The circumstances leading to his vow of silence are speculated on by the narrator and other members of the company but are ultimately never revealed (everyone leaves their past and their real name behind when they sign up.) Refusing to utter a word doesn't make him any less badass a soldier or competent a wizard. Indeed, his speaking in sign language is eventually adopted by other members of company for use as military hand signals.
  • A half-German boy living in Norway in WWI is violently beaten by schoolmates whose fathers were killed by a U-boat, in Jan Guillou's The Bridge Builders. When he recovers from the beating he refuses to speak Norwegian so he will no longer have to attend Norwegian school. He still speaks German, though, so this might also be a case of Elective Unintelligible.
  • In The Diamond Throne, the foundling Flute doesn't speak at all, except possibly off-page to Sephrenia, the only other member of her race in the party. Partway through the following book, she apparently decides this is tiresome and reverts to her true personality, which is decisive and bossy.
  • Ayla from Earth's Children is perfectly capable of speech, but she limits herself from doing so when she lives with the Clan, as they have a far more limited capacity for speech and have only a few spoken words. After discovering her son has the capacity for speech too, she plays a private game with him where they make nonsense sounds. When Jondalar first meets Ayla, he believes she may have taken a vow of silence as part of shaman training, until he realizes she does want to talk but just needs to be reminded how.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Remy stops speaking after escaping Orline and seemingly leaving Harkan to his death. It takes Navi several tries of gentle coaxing before he speaks again.
  • In The False Prince, Imogen the maid is believed by everyone to be mute. She eventually reveals to Sage that it's a ploy to keep unwanted attention at bay. From then on, she speaks to him whenever they are alone, although she keeps up the act to others until near the end of the book.
  • The Hampdenshire Wonder: Before his second birthday, Victor never speaks to anyone, instead communicating in grunts. Once his parents overhear him talking to himself in the garden, showing that he is capable of speech but chooses to remain silent. He finally starts speaking in sentences after his father walks out.
  • Jonah Turtle from If I Fall, If I Die talks plenty at home and around friends, but keeps his trap shut at school.
    Jonah: They expect Indians not to, so I don't want to disappoint them. Talking only digs you deeper in that place. They handcuff you with your own words. You ever say anything that brought you good there?
  • Eucliwood from Is This A Zombie?. Her words are powerful enough to kill so she doesn't speak (except writing on paper and Ayumu's imagination).
  • The Locked Tomb: Gideon the Ninth: At Harrow's demand, Gideon pretends to have taken a vow of silence shortly after arriving at Canaan House to avoid blowing her cover, surprising a few characters when she does eventually start talking and reveals herself as a foul-mouthed irreverent rather than a grim devotee.
    Isaac: You — do you talk?
    Camilla: You'll wish she didn't.
  • In The Grass Dancer, Lydia becomes this after an accident that claimed her husband and son.
  • In The House of the Spirits, a very young Clara becomes mute by choice after predicting the death of her older sister Rosa and blaming herself for it, and doesn't speak for nine years until her engagement to Esteban. Later on, after he hits her in the face, she promises to never speak to him again, and communicates to him only through signs till the end of her life.
  • High Admiral Ernst von Eisenach from Legend of the Galactic Heroes is known as the Silent Admiral for his tendency of never speaking, only communicating with hand signals, forcing his attendants to learn what he means. He's perfectly capable of speaking and when he finally does, the other admirals present express their surprise at hearing his voice.
  • Lewis from the book Lightland is highly selective about who he talks around. He won't speak to his mother, teachers, classmates, neighbors — only to his friend Lottie. When he finally speaks to someone besides her, It's a pretty dramatic scene.
  • The young seeress Raven from The Mists of Avalon has taken a vow of silence and dedicated her voice to the Goddess.
  • In No Talking, the no-talking contest consists of the characters choosing to not speak, though they can. Nodding, gesturing, tapping, poking, mouth sounds, tongue-clicking, lip popping, raspberries, animal sounds, writing notes, and sign language are all fair game, though.
  • In Peter Pays Tribute, Matt has gone more than a year without talking. When he finally does, he starts out only talking to his close friend.
  • Cale from the Pilgrennon's Children series has no interest in doing most of the things that are expected of him, including speech. He can communicate mind-to-mind with his sister Dana thanks to a Brain/Computer Interface, so he lets her talk for him.
  • In Ro.Te.O, Satoshi (aka Uriel) is one. So far, he's only chosen to talk when voicing Daichi — a protagonist in the Show Within A Web Serial Novel.
  • Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest pretends to be deaf and mute, and thus is privy to some of the ward's dirtiest secrets. In the film version, he only begins speaking when he thanks McMurphy for offering him a piece of gum, and even then very infrequently.
  • The young adult novel Robins Country centers around Dummy/Richard's learning to speak. He is this for most of the book after Marion discovers he is not actually The Voiceless (he sometimes talks in his sleep).
  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal: Melkorka, an Irish princess, pretends to be mute after she is taken captive and enslaved at the age of fifteen. Hoskuld buys her and brings her to Iceland, where she gives birth to Hoskuld's child. When the boy is two years old, Hoskuld overhears her talking Irish with her son, and finally gets her whole story out of her.
  • Nastya Kashnikov or Emily Ward, of The Sea Of Tranquility, stopped talking except only in the presence of Josh after undergoing a violent assault, and regains her voice, along with true name, after she understands and accepts that her musical career is forever ruined after her hand has been destroyed by the attack.
  • The Secret of Crickley Hall: In 1943 Magda Cribben, with brother Augustus, brutalised several Blitz Evacuees. Following Augustus's crazed murder of most of them, and her own co-murder of young tutor Nancy Linnet, Magda spends most of the next sixty-odd years in silence.
  • "Septimus Heap": this applies to Boy 412 for the majority of the first book in the series.
  • In Sisters of the Vast Black, The Reverend Mother took a vow of silence before the start of the story. She breaks it at the end.
  • In Tobacco Road, Pearl is willing to talk only with her mother Ada, and even then uses few words. Jeeter reflects that Ada herself used to not speak to him.
  • Ben from the Legend of the Animal Healer book The White Giraffe is less selective, but still only speaks to his parents, and his new friend Martine. The other students don't believe he can talk at all. In the second book, he opens up a bit more, and everyone is shocked that he talks.
  • Maxi "Tippkick" Maximilian from the German children's book series The Wild Soccer Bunch and their movie adaptation series Die wilden Kerle. He doesn't talk unless he deems it absolutely necessary, usually in order to help his friends. It becomes a major plot point in his story arc, when an anxiety attack makes him genuinely unable to speak but no one notices.
  • Charles Wallace was this as a child in A Wrinkle in Time. By the time of the later books, he has grown out of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In All in the Family episode "Mike's Hippie Friends Come to Visit", the beautiful hippie girl Robin believes that words are "a waste of time" and therefore only speaks with her eyes.
  • Babylon 5: The Lumati ambassador at first does not speak to Ivanova in their trade negotiations (but remains completely silent and communicates through the aide who accompanies him and with whom he has some sort of mental link), due to a belief in not directly speaking to "inferior" species. When he is convinced humans are on an equal level with them, he then does speak directly.
  • Lord Whiteadder in the Blackadder II episode "Beer" has taken a vow of silence, which he breaks near the end of the episode.
    Lord Percy: A vow of silence? That's quite an interesting thing. (beat) Tell me about it?
  • De Vloek Van Manege Pegasus: Lucy communicates only with nods for the first three episodes, leading everyone to assume that she is The Speechless. Eventually, she is forced to talk after Nena blames her for spreading rats at the farm and forces her to leave. After revealing that she can talk just fine, she claims that she just didn't know what to say before.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: In "Vow of Silence", Larry meets a man who's taken a temporary vow of silence for spiritual reasons, to Larry's mingled amusement and annoyance. Larry and Jeff being Larry and Jeff, they push him to the point that he reams them out in public and reveals compromising information about them.
  • In one episode of Firefly, the woman from the village of kidnappers assumes that Ruby must be this after River explains why Ruby stopped talking. Subverted when River corrects the woman, saying, "Ruby doesn't talk. Her voice got scared away." (In other words, River read Ruby's mind.)
  • The Girl Who Became Three Boys: Gemma Barker creates three male personas. One of them, Connor, does not speak at all, communicating only by text message even to people right next to him.
  • Jessie's brother John in Jessie upheld a vow of silence and was completely mute until That One Critical Moment when he decided to speak and save Jessie's relationship. For the rest of the season, he became the good-natured wisecracker of the cast.
  • In The Leftovers the Guilty Remnant are a sect that take a vow of silence and only communicate by passing notes.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Myrtle Raylin, one of the inventors in "Invention Convention." is deaf and can form words with effort, but finds it simpler to sign, with rare exceptions (such as calling Karl a bastard).
  • The Power (2023): Allie refuses to speak at first when she's placed in the care of the Montgomery family, while the psychologist they see identifies this as selective mutism, and a common response to childhood trauma. She later starts to speak after she's urged to by the voice.
  • Supernatural: After witnessing his dad's death, the son refuses to even talk with his mom. Dean gets him to open up little by little and by the end of the episode, he's back to the little kid he was before the incident.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: Jack, as an adolescent boy, does not talk to strangers.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): Charlie in "The Bushwackers" is a traumatized war orphan being raised by Roy Rogers. Wonder Woman's love of all things breaks his silence.
  • The X-Files: The mostly silent Conundrum from the episode "Humbug" speaks only one line, to Mulder and Scully and in the presence of Dr. Blockhead, at the end of the episode. It's implied that he's very selective about those he speaks to.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Amazing Kong, for some reason, went almost completely silent during her first TNA run, only ever saying "Raisha" right before getting rid of her self appointed mouth piece. In her second TNA run, she was questioned about it after her Heel–Face Turn and said she didn't feel the need to say anything.
  • Sting took a vow of silence in WCW in October of 1996 (right after the New World Order hired an impostor Sting to frame the real Sting for a heinous act) and would not speak again until January of 1998 — and that was only out of anger at being stripped of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Buommans are known as the "moaning monks" of the Astral Plane, and take a vow against speech early in their lives. Instead they sing during their daily rituals, during occasions like meals or departures, or to communicate less concrete concepts, and even their names are expressed in short musical phrases. If a buomman does break their vow by speaking, they take Wisdom damage and penalties on rolls for the next 24 hours.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Knights of Morr are black-armored templars of the God of the Dead and follow a strict vow of silence while on duty. Despite the intimidating aesthetic, they're solidly Creepy Good.

  • In the play (and movie) Reckless, Pooty is this. Due to a Snowball Lie, her husband thinks she's a deaf-mute. When she's alone or with someone who will keep her secret, she talks.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies gives us the eccentric bomb disposal officer Ted Tonate, who despite being perfectly capable of speaking, prefers to use a text-to-speech computer mounted on his wrist instead. According to him, it exerts less energy. He does still end up using his voice when he either has his hands full or he starts panicking at his crime getting discovered.
  • The protagonist of Blasphemous, the Penitent One, belongs to an order called the Brotherhood of Silent Sorrow. As their name implies, they have all collectively taken a vow of silence as part of their penance. This also justifies the Penitent One being a Heroic Mime.
  • "The Ancient" from the Space Marine campaign of Dawn Of War II: Retribution never speaks, not even to confirm the player's orders, as he's taken a vow of silence to atone for past sins. That is until the latter portion of the campaign when he breaks his silence to verbally slap Diomedes out of a Heroic BSoD, revealing himself to be Sargent Tarkus from the Original Campaign and Chaos Rising expansion.
  • In Doom Eternal the Doom Slayer is noted in the Codex entries that at one point he could talk, but for some mysterious reason or another, he simply stopped doing so and opted to keep silent without an explicit explanation. A Flashback shows that when he was originally the Doomguy marine, he actually could talk for the first and only time in the entire series, his insane ramblings about his having to kill all the demons in Hell were what ended up causing everything wrong in his life after that point due to inspiring the wrong people to investigate the subject and becoming corrupted by their findings. The only time the Slayer actually does speak outside of flashbacks is at the end of the final battle of the Ancient Gods DLC, where Davoth, the Lord of Hell and true Father of all creation, is at the Slayer's mercy and asks him if he has anything to say to his creator before he strikes him down. The Slayer's response, delivered just after he's skewered the hell out of him with the Doomblade, is just one word: "No."
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, there's a Ferelden proverb claiming that "The mabari is clever enough to speak, and wise enough to know not to." As for whether this is actually true, the game never does settle that question.
  • A Tribunal Temple quest in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind requires you to cross from one end of Vvardenfell to the other while under such a vow. It's a long trip, since you can't use any form of conventional transportation without breaking your vow, but you still have access to magical teleportation spells to make it easier.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, Ward loses his voice due to a throat injury from an Estharian soldier. In the French version, however, through a Dub-Induced Plotline Change, he swears not to say another word for the rest of the game.
    • The Qestir tribe of Au Ra in Final Fantasy XIV refuse to speak to anyone, even each other, because they believe that all spoken words are lies and the truth comes from your facial and body language. Naturally, some NPCs find this confusing and frustrating to deal with.
  • Boyfriend from Friday Night Funkin' is an interesting case. He does actually speak, albeit in the form of "beeps" and "boops", but Word of God states that he talks this way deliberately so he can avoid engaging in meaningful conversation, which would make him an elective mute by way of refusing to speak in a normal form.
  • The Bug in Hover Car Racer only talks to people he feels very comfortable with and close to.
  • This is one possible interpretation for most versions of Link, but it's explicitly stated to be the case for the Link from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. His lack of speech is remarked on by other characters and when Zelda finally asks why he's so quiet he explained (offscreen of course) that it was a way of coping with the pressure of being the one to wield the Master Sword. This isn't to say he never talks at all, we just never see it.
  • Lucius is a six to eight year old boy who never speaks, which unnerves some people. His tutor gets around this during math lessons by asking him to pick up the card with the correct answer rather than saying out loud. The one time Lucius canonically speaks is when he whispers something in Detective MacGuffin's ear, which the audience never hears.
  • Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain deliberately doesn't speak because she's infected with the English strain of the vocal chord parasite. Said parasite will kill her and infect everyone on Mother Base if she speaks English.
  • In Moshi Monsters there is the chief of the Woolly Green Hoodoos who is said to be "the strong silent type" and "words are not his thing, man".
  • NEO: The World Ends with You has Kaie. He can speak, but he prefers to communicate via text message even if the person he's talking to is right in front of him. Humorously, most of his messages include emoticons, while he himself usually has a completely neutral expression at all times. When his texts are actually voiced by his own voice, he "speaks" rather awkwardly, as if he was very nervous.
  • PAYDAY 2: Guest Fighter Jacket possibly might be able to speak but chooses not to, communicating via a tape deck and a series of prerecorded tapes. Most of the tapes are sensible, coming from language classes and the like. One is a full-length speech telling a crowd this is a bank robbery, but they're after the bank's money and the clientele's accounts won't be affected, so stay down and nobody gets hurt. One wonders why that message exists...
  • Portal: Chell is a hero that doesn't say anything, which is lampshaded several times by other characters. Word of God says that she can talk, but since everyone she meets is a jerk she doesn't want to give them the satisfaction of a response. This extends to the second game, where she chooses to jump instead of speak when Wheatley prompts her.
  • Playa from the original Saints Row is almost this, as he never speaks throughout the whole game (and other characters call him out on that)... except for four very specific occasions (once during the final mission of each of the three main gang storylines and once just before the final credits). The sequels (where he is Suddenly Speaking) reveal that he chose to never speak up in the original game because, despite his meteoric rise through the ranks, he saw himself as the Dumb Muscle who has to keep his mouth shut and do as he is told by senior gang members.
  • In Shop Heroes, Odette never speaks when visiting your shop. If you do her personal quests, however, it turns out that she can speak if she wants to.
  • The New Kid from South Park: The Stick of Truth, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, and South Park: Phone Destroyer is a parody of Heroic Mimes and thus responds to everything either through emoting or stone-cold silence, to the frustration of others. However, at the end of the first game, he tells the main four "Screw you guys, I'm going home" when they talk about playing a new game.
  • A sidequest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a druid ask you to scare his friend, claiming that he's gone mute and it can only be cured by strong experiences. When you go through with it, the druid yells at Geralt, revealing that he had taken a three-year-long vow of silence and that the other druid was pranking them both.

    Web Animation 

  • In A-gnosis' comics on Greek myth, Hestia almost never speaks, preferring to communicate through hand gestures and Facial Dialogue. She still gets along very well with the other gods, who have no problem understanding her intentions.
  • The Order of the Stick: Blackwing, Vaarsuvius' Familiar, is fluent in Common, but initially refuses to communicate with the elf except through the empathic link that they share, out of disrespect for his master (earned by said master's annoying tendency to forget he exists). He only begins speaking out loud after an Enemy Mine incident which causes them to set aside their differences and ends with the pair seeing each other as Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Outsider: The Teidar, or "Unsheathed" (a military arm of the Loroi who specialize in psychic combat) have a tradition where they only speak aloud when danger is imminent, to issue warnings or challenges. The one Unsheathed character to appear so far is a textbook example of The Silent Bob, as despite not speaking she's quite expressive through her facial expressions and actions.
  • Paranatural: Johnny explains how his friend RJ decided they were non-binary at a heavy metal concert, which has shaped their life and outlook ever since, to the point that they took a vow of silence.
    Johnny: From that day forward, RJ swore a vow of song an' silence... t'only use their voice for that which is truly metal.
    RJ: That's right.
    [Beat Panel]
    RJ: Irony is extremely metal.

    Web Original 
  • On the Behind The Veil site there's Jennifer O'Connell, who stopped talking completely after the car crash that killed her parents and left her stranded in there for hours (due to her own paralysis). She only very recently started to talk again, and only to her step-mother or when the situation is important enough.
  • In Primitive Technology, the unnamed man in those videos never speaks. In his blog, he explains that he never enjoyed the explanation parts of videos and simply fast-forwarded to where the actual project was being done. Thus, in his own videos, he simply demonstrates his various projects by doing them before the camera and gives terse explanations of what he's doing or what's going on at that moment in the closed captions. Judging from his subscriber count (well over six million) and the numerous comments of watchers saying they appreciate how he gets right to the point, this approach has served him well. The closed captions approach makes it easy for fans of his show to provide the captions in other languages as well.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold version of Katana is silent unless she has something important to say (in her first appearance she only speaks to explain to the other Outsiders how to save Wildcat's life). A later story reveals her sensei was killed by a villain seeking the Soulsword, who only knew it was in the dojo because he overheard her talking about it, so she vowed to never talk unless she had to.
  • Pucca: Has the two main leads, Pucca and Garu. In Garu's case, he took a vow of silence, while for Pucca it's ambiguous.
  • Transformers: Prime: Played with by Soundwave; while he doesn't use his own voice to speak, he uses recordings of others to communicate. He's apparently taken some kind of vow of silence, which Starscream considers a "cop out". He speaks exactly one line in his own voice (which sounds like an updated version of G1 Soundwave's, or Dr. Claw's from Inspector Gadget). He is way more talkative in the sequel Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015), though he sounds a lot like his G1 incarnation.
  • Kano of The Venture Bros. took a vow of silence to atone for "taking from the world a great man". It's later revealed that the "great man" he was talking about was the Blue Morpho after Jonas Venture turned him into a cyborg and he accidentally started strangling young Rusty while having a flashback to his death.
  • Jorel's Brother: Jorel basically never says a word, in most episodes he at most just does a sarcastic laugh. He only speaks on-screen twice; in a video of himself as a baby when he says his own name, and in the last scene of the Season 3 finale, when he tells the audience "to be continued..."

    Real Life 
  • Actually subverted with a real-life condition which was initially called Elective Mutism; people with this condition don't speak to anyone except a few selected individuals, and it was initially assumed that they do so by choice. In reality, they cannot help it; therefore the condition was eventually renamed to Selective Mutism. (You'll find June and Jennifer Gibbons there, and others.)
  • Many religions have members who take vows of silence so they may focus on contemplation and meditation. Some groups are entirely dedicated to silent contemplation while others enforce silence at certain times — for example, medieval Benedictine monks ate their meals in silence, but developed a sign language that allowed them to converse.
  • Indian mystic and spiritual leader Meher Baba stopped speaking in 1925, at the age of 31, and until his death in 1969, he only communicated by an alphabet board and hand gestures.
  • Australian activist James Aspey did not speak for a year (from January 2014 to January 2015) to raise awareness of animal cruelty.
  • As he was dying from pancreatic cancer, Bill Hicks told his family, "I've said all I've had to say.", and he stopped talking altogether before passing away 11 days later.
  • Those inducted into the Order of the Arrow, an honor society of the Boy Scouts of America, go through an Ordeal. Selected members are 'tapped out' at a ceremony at the camp in the evening, and are taken to sleep alone, outside on the ground, away from the other campsites. They then spend the following day engaged in service projects, working at the camp/park, and go through a formal induction ceremony that next evening. Initiates are meant to perform their Ordeal without speaking, except in emergencies, though communication by hand gestures and written messages is often used.