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Moment of Silence

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When an important character dies, one way to ramp up the emotion is to cut all dialogue and sound effects, adding complete silence to the scene for perhaps ten seconds. Sad music, often with female vocalization, will usually be played to highlight the effect, but all other sound is cut out. Some extreme cases will eliminate even the music, leaving nothing but the video. Expect the visuals to consist mainly of other characters' reactions to the death, especially lots of screaming the dead character's name (silently), and general crying. Also expect the visuals to be in Slow Motion much of the time.

And, of course, there's also the literal moment of silence shown out of respect for the dead, but that's more about plot than cinematics.

See also: Silent Credits, Dramatic Space Drifting, and Sudden Soundtrack Stop.

For in-universe moments of silence observed in memory of a deceased character, see Due to the Dead. For real-life ones, see In Memoriam. For an in-universe version that isn't specific to death, see Silence of Sadness.

Beware of spoilers. Spoiler tags are used in some but not all cases.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto has the fatal wounding of Asuma (with One-Woman Wail), the apparent death of Hinata, the arrival and explosion of the Juubi's bomb at the Shinobi HQ, and the actual death (well, the moment of the fatal blow) of Neji with complete silence.
  • One Piece: Igaram.
  • Kittan gets a short one in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
    • Kamina gets this as well. At the end of the episode, the only animation and sound effects added to the still frames is the rain falling.
  • End of Evangelion has this at the end of part 1, when Shinji finally decides to enter the battle... only to find that he's too late.
  • A variant is found in the final episode of the School Days anime. Makoto reads a text message that consists only of lots of blank lines and he scrolls down to the end where it just says "Goodbye", and all sound stops for a three-second close up of the single word. Then the tragic music picks up and he is stabbed to death from behind.
  • Played with at the end of Code Geass. The climax alternates between the reactions of different characters to Lelouch's imminent death and a flashback of Lelouch and Suzaku explaining the entire thing.
  • Kill la Kill does this with Senketsu's death, immediately before a case of Say My Name.
  • In Betterman, the explosion that kills Shou and Kaede is completely silent.
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi: After a certain character Takes the Bullet for another, they manage to hold onto life for a while longer. The moment they die, the Background Music suddenly stops.

    Comic Books 
  • The Ultimates: Nick Fury and Betty Ross cross silently the area where the victims of the Hulk's rampage are being treated. Betty only managed to talk once they are in the elevator.

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Gandalf's death in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Sirius's death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Word of God says that this is because Daniel Radcliffe made such a heart-wrenching scream that they couldn't keep it in.
  • Godzilla and Daisuke Serizawa's deaths in Gojira.
  • A minor subversion in i am sam, where Sam admits that he is not good enough to raise Lucy alone after the Prosecution berates him into this position. The trope is put into play when Sam is forced to let Lucy go and the only sound is sad music in the background.
  • Road to Perdition's Battle in the Rain, with muted sound effects and no dialogue until the final confrontation. Then an understated "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner, and a jarringly loud burst of gunfire.
  • Angie's death in Mirrors.
  • In The Quick and the Dead, though it's not immediately after the death of the Kid, a full minute goes by without Background Music, dialogue, or cheering, before the duel between Cort and the Lady.
  • In The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • In The Dark Knight:
      • After the bombs go off and the Joker escapes at the end of the second act.
      • And then again when Harvey finds his coin and figures out what happened.
      • Meta example: The sequel's strategic silence on the defeated Joker as if he never existed - so as to not diminish Heath Ledger's memory.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, when the cops are heading down into the tunnels and are about to be trapped when Bane sets off the explosives. The vocalization is provided by a boy singing the National Anthem at the football stadium.
  • When the chase scene in London in Skyfall nears its end.
  • Frozen (2013) has one when Anna is frozen solid after saving her sister.
  • Land of Mine: When Ernst Lessner suicidally walks into the mine field, the protests from Sebastian and the others fade to silence as the background music grows louder. When he triggers a mine and it explodes, the only sound is the music, which then ends, the last note fading to silence. After a lull, the music starts up again, quiet and slow. Several seconds pass before any other sound is heard — Sebastian's quiet, ragged breathing as he stares at the scene.
  • Sunshine's death in Little Big Man.
  • After Frank beats up Monty in 25th Hour.
  • Captain Nicholls' death in the movie adaption of War Horse, combined with subtly Playing the Heart Strings and Taps.
  • In L'eclisse the minute of silence lasts exactly one minute.
  • Used in April Showers when Sean learns of April's death.
  • In The Last Jedi, after Admiral Holdo makes a hyperdrive-powered suicide run into the massive enemy ship there is a smash cut to complete silence for nearly 10 seconds. Some theaters reported moviegoers complaining about the "broken" sound during the scene due to the abrupt and utter silence.note 
  • This happens with just quiet music as John (Gregory Barr) is put in the police car in The Lennon Report; Yoko (Karen Tsen Lee) rushes to the window crying "John, John,"; Officer Frank (Tracey Asai) gently pulls her back, says "Are you all right?" and as Yoko nods, "Okay. Come on."
  • In William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, the titular characters' deaths are followed by a completely silent Happier Times Montage, and Capt. Prince's ending monologue is devoid of background music as well.

  • Love You Forever: When the son arrives home after his mother dies (or possibly when she's very close to death), he stands at the top of the stairway in silence for a long time. This is one reason readers interpret that the mother passed away.

    Live Action TV 
  • The death of Buffy's mom, Joyce in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the entire episode had very little dialogue and was the only episode in the entire series to contain no music, and so probably qualifies.
    • A similar example in the episode Passion; when the main characters receive a phone call informing them of Jenny Calendar's death, they're being filmed from outside the house. Their reactions are inaudible but unmistakable.
  • House of the Dragon: At one point in the pilot, as Aemma is dying from a Traumatic C-Section, we can still see her screaming but the audio goes silent and only the music can be heard.
  • Kamen Rider Build: When Misora appears to the cast on top of Pandora Tower, everything but the sound of blowing wind is muted as the cast show how devastated they have become as a result of Kazumi's death.
  • The death of Henry Blake in season three of M*A*S*H. There's a slow panning shot of everyone looking horrified and saddened after The Reveal.
  • In NCIS: Los Angeles, we get one of these following Dom's death.
  • The death of Adric at the end of the Doctor Who episode "Earthshock". Not only was there no sound, but instead of the usual closing credits, there was just a closeup of Adric's broken badge.
    • Done in the new series to great effect at the end of "The Pandorica Opens", when the Doctor is put inside the Pandorica, followed by the entirety of reality being subjected to Ret-Gone by the explosion of the TARDIS.
      • And for the last few seconds of the episode, silence falls.
  • When major characters die on 24 sometimes they go to commercial without the second-indicating beeps. Edgar Styles and George Mason are the only two who come to mind.
  • At the end of the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, when they finally go over the top in no man's land there are no closing titles and the usual theme tune is replaced by a slow piano version and gunshot sound effects, finishing with three strong bass-drum notes as the scene fades to a poppy field.
    • The Blackadder ending came about almost by accident. They'd originally intended to show everybody falling, but it looked fake. Then they came up with the idea of slowing down the action and dissolving to a poppy field... and suddenly there wasn't a dry eye in the country.
  • When recurring character Mrs Fyvie dies in Getting On.
  • When Auggie sees the terrorist plant a bomb near his comrades in Covert Affairs
  • Sherlock: Immediately after Sherlock's faked suicide, the sound turns completely off, returning in a slow and fragmented manner to indicate John's extreme shock.
  • Not a recurring character, but the Law & Order: SVU episode "Shattered" uses this trope after a young boy and his kidnapper go into the river after a car chase. Somber music plays as soundless scenes show the parents' horrified reactions to the news, and the detectives' stricken faces as the car is hauled from the water.
  • Played with in Breaking Bad. After Hank gets killed off, the audio of the episode goes completely muted, but zooms in on Walter White's horrified reaction.
  • Several Access Hollywood episodes end with a silent version of the NBC Universal logo, usually when they announce the death of a celebrity. Examples include Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Omar Sharif, Abe Vigoda, and Muhammad Ali. In the case of Céline Dion's husband, it features a Lonely Piano Piece. An episode which involved Billy Bush's retirement from the show also ended in silence.
  • Similar to the above, the May 16, 1990 episode of Entertainment Tonight had the Paramount Television logo silent out of respect for Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson. The January 23, 2017 episode also ended with the CBS logo in silent out of respect for Bonnie Tiegel, the senior producer of the show who passed away recently.

  • The iconic "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" by Gordon Lightfoot incorporates a moment of silence at the end in honor of the many who died building the transcontinental railroad.
  • Radiohead's "Motion Picture Sountrack" features a minute of silence between the main song and the Hidden Track, with another minute of silence following that, both times tying into the song's suicide allusions.
  • The final stage of The Caretaker's six-part series Everywhere at the End of Time ends with a minute of silence, symbolizing both the death of the Caretaker as a character, and as a musical project.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After the death of Eddie Guerrero, CZW's staff requested such a moment. One fan protested, leading to the rest to request his removal from the building. Then there was silence.
  • During Sgt. Slaughter's Iraqi sympathizer heel gimmick, in November 1990 at Madison Square Garden, Slaughter demanded that ring announcer Howard Finkel call for a "moment of silence" "in memory of the Iraqi troops who died at the hands of Americans during Operation: Desert Shield." Not surprisingly, the fans booed as Slaughter and his henchman, Gen. Adnan, saluted an Iraqi flag in the center of the ring, and debris littered the ring before Hacksaw Jim Duggan came to the ring. At least one other match saw Slaughter intimidate the ring announcer into calling for a moment of silence, and Adnan and Slaughter repeated their act before Duggan interrupted the "moment of silence" by running into the ring and sneak attacking Slaughter while they were (too) focused on saluting the Iraqi flag ... to of course the loud cheers of the audience.

  • Allegro has a silent scene (music but no dialogue or singing) following the death of Joe's mother as Joe, his friend and his father react to the sad news.
  • In the opera Wozzeck, the orchestra immediately fades to pianissimo when Wozzeck drowns, and for the remainder of the scene produces no sound louder than imitation frog croaks as the Captain and Doctor quietly react to the sound of a man drowning in the lake in dialogue (not even Sprechstimme).

    Video Games 
  • In the end of the British campaign in Company of Heroes, there are close shots of the aftermath of the battle of Caen, accompanied by celtic singing with strings and bagpipes.
  • At the end of the penultimate chapter of Journey (2012), it slowly turns very silent as your own life fades away.
  • In the sacrifice Chloe ending of Life Is Strange, right after Nathan shoots Chloe, the ending music starts and all sound effects are silenced. Even the photo effects are silent.
  • At the end of Day 296 of Not for Broadcast, if Jeremy dies by suicide or gets killed by security, the end results screen goes silent without any of its music, acting like a moment of silence for him.

    Web Original 
  • In Black Jack Justice, the protagonists' Private Eye Monologues always have a noir style theme playing in the background, with the most prominent instrument changing based on who is speaking and serving as a Leitmotif. One exception to this occurs in the episode "Justice and the Happy Ending". In the climax of the episode, Jack's recently returned former partner, Tom Fellows, tries to recruit Jack into his game of getting the local gangs organized under his bosses' syndicate, and prepares to kill Trixie to get rid of dead weight. Jack steps in, with every implication being he's decided to side with Tom and intends to kill Trixie himself. The Background Music is completely absent when Trixie describes Jack's firing the gun and killing Tom, and picks up when Trixie starts describing the aftermath of the events.
  • The Nostalgia Critic chastises Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland for its silent moment after the destruction of The Nightmare King:
    Critic: Uh, no. You have not warranted a silent moment, movie. Nothing you’ve done is big enough that you need to be quiet for a second to let it sink in!

    Western Animation 
  • In Final Space, after Kevin's Bad "Bad Acting" led to hundreds of cult worshippers dropping themselves off a cliff, Gary proposes a brief silence for them just about a second before moving on with the mission.
  • In the Justice League episode "Hereafter," this is the reaction to Superman's apparent death. He's not actually dead, but none of the onlookers know that.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the majority of the Final Agni Kai has the actual fight lowered to barely audible levels while calm music plays.

    Real Life 
  • Many religious services utilize moments of silence. This is also common at funerals.
  • In the Commonwealth nations it is traditional to observe two minutes of silence on the eleventh of November to commemorate the two world wars.


Video Example(s):


Shuri Mourns T'Challa

Alone on a beach with no music, Shuri burns T'Challa's funeral clothes and remembers her brother.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReallyDeadMontage

Media sources: