Follow TV Tropes


Jump Cut

Go To

"I think my neck got broken in that jump cut!"

An abrupt edit, cutting from one shot to another almost exactly like it. Very jarring to the viewer. (Sometimes, this jarring quality is a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmaker; see the examples below.) To avoid this, the editor will usually cut away, then cut back to the second shot, with a Reaction Shot or other coverage in between.

Can happen in live studio settings, when two cameras are focused on the same person or object. Switching directly from one to the other creates a jump cut.

In an interview, a single lengthy response must often be time compressed. Since the interview subject is often held in a single long shot, the cut must be covered. This can be done by cutting in illustrative footage (called B-Roll), cutting to a Reaction Shot of the interviewer, or by using a fast dissolve or wipe instead of a hard cut.

Note the scarcity of examples; jump cuts are considered big no-nos by most directors and avoided by most Hollywood editors. Inadvertent examples can often be found in the atrocious B movies picked-apart by MST3K, as indicated above.

In contrast, jump cuts are far more common in web videos. Sometimes it is because of difficulties of making a video with one continuous take. Sometimes it is done deliberately to retain viewer's attention, in which case jump cuts may be very frequent.

Compare Smash Cut, a cutting technique of making scene changes deliberately abrupt; and Gilligan Cut, when it's done deliberately for comedy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Perfect Blue: Occurs at a faster pace as Mima loses her grip on reality.
  • Mononoke uses these frequently, coupled with intentionally Deranged Animation and Mind Screw to cement its status as a surreal Psychological Horror series. For instance, in the first arc, there's a scene where the "camera" stays on the floor with a doll in the foreground, as a character walking down a corridor slowly jumps into the distance. At some point along the way, the doll turns to look after her during a cut.
  • Trapeze, by the same director, uses jump cuts a lot as part of general extreme weirdness.
  • The anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind shows in-universe jump cuts when the Big Bad uses his Stand to skip forward and erase time.
  • Transformers: Armada used this, but not intentionally — the animation was simply rushed, so often they used the same background, even if the "camera" switched focus to another character. And there was also one bizarre scene, when they showed Thrust, suddenly jump cut to a totally random and pointless shot of the same background (but no Thrust), then back to the same image as before, with Thrust magically reappearing and continuing his thing. Nothing happened during that strange stray shot of the scenery.
  • In Excel♡Saga, during a episode centralized on baseball, we jump from the start of the game to the ninth inning after one scene transition, to which Nabeshin responds "Holy Jumpcuts!"
  • Happens in the second episode of The Flowers of Evil when Kasuga runs away from Nakamura after she reveals she knows he stole Saeki's gym uniform.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jump cuts were used on purpose in the film Capote during the hanging scene.
  • Jump cuts are also used to disorient viewers, often representing paranoia. Films that use them in this way include GoodFellas and Bug.
  • The film most widely credited with popularizing jump cuts is Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (French title: À bout de souffle). The jump cuts weren't used for any specific artistic purpose, however; they were done mainly to get rid of scenes that made the film too long. Although one of the points of the film is to do everything in pretty much the opposite way it would be done in Hollywood continuity, which includes this. It also woke up Hollywood to take new paths. Without this little movie, our cinemas would still run on cuts used in the '50s.
  • This is, in fact, sadly common with older movies which were never digitized, and have several bad (cut/torn/dirty/burned) pieces of film which have to be cut out in order to make the film watchable again. In order not to cut around even more the publishers often decide in favour of the jump-cutty result in material.
    • Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life contained a scene of these: when Uncle Billy taunts Potter in the bank, and accidentally leaves him his newspaper.
    • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Girl in Gold Boots has such a jump cut, getting rid of a bit where a character enters a scene. Mike and the bots immediately decided that he had teleported in. (Several other episodes had jump cuts, but this was a particularly notable instance.)
    • Another MST3K target, Red Zone Cuba, provides the page quote when the films suddenly cuts from two guys fighting to an auto wrecking lot. Servo decides at this point "See, the movie has finally thrown up its hands and said "I just don't know!""
    • Occurs in several of the Marx Brothers movies due to either film damage or censorship edicts. For one example, the scene in Connie's bedroom in Horse Feathers was sliced to ribbons by the Hays Office, and the scene remaining today has several abrupt cuts as a result.
  • Jump cuts are occasionally the intersection of a Stop Trick or Match Cut and Special Effect Failure — in Star Wars (A New Hope), Luke Skywalker deactivates his lightsaber on-screen aboard the Millennium Falcon and appears to teleport a little bit. These effects are only convincing (though still often jarring) when everything except what needs to change stays in exactly the same position. Especially notable in Star Wars because the actual scene changes in the movie are a loving tribute to the Wipe (to the extent that the film provides that page's image) rather than the (much more common) dissolve or fade to/through black.
  • The film adaption of Trainspotting uses jump cuts in one scene as a metaphor for the POV of a character under the influence of speed.
  • Used repeatedly during Janet's breakdown monologue in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, prompting the callback:
    Janet: What's happening?
    Audience: It's called a jump cut, bitch!
  • In silent film Wings, a jump cut is used to go from a medium shot of Jack to a close-up as he realizes that the pilot he shot down was actually his best friend in a stolen German plane.
  • A few of these in America America when Stavros's uncle receives him in Constantinople. Stavros is supposed to be bringing the family bankroll. The uncle excitedly plans to plow Stavros's money into the rug merchant businessóJump Cut to the uncle reacting in horror and rage after finding out that Stavros lost all his moneyóJump Cut to the uncle, now calmer, planning to marry Stavros off to a rich merchant's daughter to salvage the situation.
  • Late silent-era film Desert Nights has a couple of peculiar jump cuts that play like something is missing from the surviving film. In any case, there's a shot of Diana the jewel thief telling her partner Steve that they should turn themselves in, followed by a Jump Cut to Steve holding a gun on Diana and their kidnap victim Hugh, followed by a Jump Cut to a shot of Steve leaving with all the stolen diamonds.
  • In a Better World: Used intentionally several times in the film to underscore moments of high emotion, tension, or stress. One scene has two Jump Cuts with Marianne as she hovers panicked outside while the doctors operate on Elias. Another scene uses several Jump Cuts afterward, as Marianne is standing vigil over her unconscious son in his hospital bed.
  • Untamed Heart combines this with a Lipstick-and-Load Montage when we see Caroline getting ready for her date near the beginning of the movie (set to the remix of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner").

  • House of Leaves: Will Navidson uses jump cuts extensively and intentionally in certain scenes of The Navidson Record to express the jarring and isolating nature of the house.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Forest of the Dead", Donna Noble appears to live a normal life on Earth, transitioning through jump cuts to scenes of her falling in love, then getting married, then having children for seven years. Except that the jump cuts literally happened within the space of a few seconds, and false memories have been implanted.
  • Firefly:
    • Utilized in the episode "Objects in Space", during the opening sequence of River reading the crew's mind; jump cuts are used to offset the crew's "thoughts" with the actual scene, as well as show River's disjointed mindset as she moves throughout the ship.
    • Also used in one scene in the pilot, for a similar purpose.
    • Joss Whedon sometimes portrays insanity by having an actor speak a monologue in several different styles and editing them together with many rapid jump cuts, intensifying the sensation of a character's mind breaking from reality. Used in Buffy, Firefly, and Dollhouse.
    • Another example in "Objects in Space": when River is deconstructing Early's life and motives, there are several jump cuts between Early's serene face and shots of him gnashing his teeth and shaking his head in frustration, which is implied to be how he's really feeling at the moment.
    • Again with River in Serenity when she wakes up... and then wakes up.
  • The Lost episode "The Constant" involves such complicated editing that the editor takes part in the DVD commentary to discuss his choices. In two scenes, jump cuts are used as Desmond is banging on doors, suffering from time disorientation. The editor calls attention to the fact that jump cuts are usually considered horrible, but are used specifically to help the audience feel Desmond's disorientation.
  • MythBusters makes a lot of use of this technique, typically when something is being built. It's even lampshaded by the narrator in the Moon Landing Myths episode.
  • Some shows (like The Benny Hill Show) used a jump cut for intentional "jump cut to a dummy falling from a great height into jump cut to character getting up after falling" gag.
  • Wheel of Fortune:
    • It used to use these when the show still had its mechanical puzzle board. Every time the host said "Our category for this next round is...", there would be a jump cut from him to the puzzle board. What home viewers didn't see was the puzzle board getting pushed back into the studio with that round's puzzle freshly loaded in. Thanks to the electronic puzzle board first implemented in February 1997, such jump cuts are no longer needed.
    • Nowadays, they edit out a Final Spin if it lands on anything other than a dollar amount, or a cycle of turns if it goes around the horn without affecting the outcome (e.g., three consecutive wrong letters/Lose a Turn/Bankrupt from a contestant with $0). Such cuts can usually be spotted by following the Wheel's position to that point. Also, if there is a jump cut to Pat during the Speed-Up, that means that three consecutive wrong letters were edited out.
  • Parks and Recreation likes using jump cuts, which fits with it being a Mockumentary. The "real" reason for this is often to glue together a series of Throw It In bits, such as with this scene. Another episode has a Confession Cam scene with a drunken Ann. As filmed, Rashida Jones paused between two lines, but when the episode was edited, the editor decided to turn the pause into a jump cut in order to give the impression Ann had been ranting for a long time. This is pointed out on the DVD Commentary for that episode.
  • This was used quite often in the first season of Homicide: Life on the Street to lend the show a realistic and gritty tone.
  • Similar to the Star Wars example above, a huge portion of special effects in Tokusatsu series boil down to a jump cut with a bunch of flashy stuff over top to try and hide it. Used for everything from henshin sequences to weapons appearing to form changes to robot buddies switching from props to CGI. They've gotten good enough over the years that they can be nearly imperceptible, but later episodes often don't try as hard as the budget and shooting schedule wear thin, and all bets are off for seasons from the '70s or '80s, which almost never make an effort to hide their many jump cuts.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the 'penguin intelligence' sketch, the script calls for a 'slight edit with jump visible' as the presenter closes discussion of one topic and moves to another.
  • Frequently used and Played for Laughs in Garth Marenghis Darkplace, as part of the general Stylistic Suck.
  • Daredevil (2015): Subtly used during Matt's concussion to show his consciousnessness slipping in and out.
  • WandaVision: The broadcast for the In-Universe WandaVision show has abrupt jump cuts to skip over anything that challenges Wanda's sitcom reality.

    Music Videos 
  • Lindsey Stirling tends to use these if talking to the camera in a personal video, since they make it more lively and remove unnecessary pauses.
  • Virtually every frame of the video of Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", directed by Godley & Creme, features a jump cut, by virtue of rapidly alternating between a couple different takes.
  • While not as pervasive as "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", the video for Seal's "Prayer for the Dying" features an impressive number of these.

    Web Original 
  • This is what Dream uses to skip most of the boring parts of his videos that would've otherwise been shown, therefore making the video longer.
    • In the Minecraft Manhunt grand finale, at the end of the video, it cuts from Dream shooting the pillars used to heal the dragon, to the dragon at low health, with all the pillars destroyed.

    Web Videos 
  • Frequent, fast, deliberate jump cuts are one of the defining characteristics of the lonelygirl15 series, adding to the series' quirky, slightly surreal nature. Nevertheless, many viewers still found it irritating.
  • As a result, hundreds if not thousands of vlogs use it today. Astoundingly irritating to professionals and wannabe professionals. Although Ze Frank's "The Show" actually popularized the use of jump cuts, airing six months before lonelygirl15.
  • Perfected in Marble Hornets where the cuts are created by either J creating them, Slender Man causing disturbances, or someone (totheark?) messing with the video. The latter two types are noticeably effective.
  • Stuart Ashen:
    • Dr. Ashen is a one-man, one-camera operation who films stuff on his couch or kitchen floor. Every time the doorbell rings or he sneezes on the camera he has to jump cut over it. He never fails to tell you why there's a cut, though, and it's always reasonable.
    • Note that unplanned jump cuts come out of nowhere and in mid sentence ("ARGH! Jump cut!") and planned ones are called in advance ("Get ready for a jump cut...PING!").
    • One of the most notable was when he was examining a bootleg iPhone 5 and discovered it had a TV aerial. He bursts out laughing so hard that he has to cut to when he calms down.
  • raocow sometimes uses jump cuts in his Let's Play videos. Most often, this happens if he accidentally dies; he will let the character die and then jump-cut back to the same spot that he was at before dying. Sometimes, he will also jump-cut mid-sentence, making his already surreal voiceovers even more so.
  • Used by YouTuber Chad Wild Clay in this "misheard lyrics" parody.
  • A trademark of YouTube movie reviewer Jeremy Jahns.
  • Jacksepticeye is increasingly using this technique in his newer videos, normally cutting off a swearing rant right as it starts, implying he raved for a long time and simply edited it out.
  • One of the many editing idiosyncrasies Rufus Hooter Talltales has his camerawoman to blame for in World's Greatest Adventures.
  • Title Pending: The second episode starts with Cameron enjoying a walk before camera and the music cut to Bayden stopping near him in his car.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: Hare Remover notably has a very obvious Deleted Scene where Elmer, happy and celebrating after having caught Bugs... suddenly carries him back to his laboratory with a stern angry look on his face. It almost looks as if Bugs said something to sour his mood...
  • The Popeye short Popeye and the Pirates is infamous for having an instantaneous moment of Popeye transitioning out of his drag disguise (complete with a Boob-Based Gag of Cannonballs or weights) to cut immediately to the pirate captain resurfacing with said balls in his mouth.


Video Example(s):


Could Have Called MIT

After the initial memory spell fails, Doctor Strange asks Peter why he didn't just call the admissions department at MIT and ask them to reconsider MJ and Ned's applications before coming to ask for magical assistance.

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (42 votes)

Example of:

Main / CouldHaveAvoidedThisPlot

Media sources: