Follow TV Tropes


Plot-Based Voice Cancellation

Go To
A rare visual example of a promise being obscured.

Sometimes, one line can change everything — for the characters as well as the audience. So, often, if that line has to come up early on, it will be cancelled out by some other noise, such as a truck passing or a plane taking off, or, in the case of dream worlds and other special cases, for no obvious reason whatsoever.

Almost universally, this becomes a point for a flashback later in the series, either once the characters (or audience) have learned the rest of the line, or once the conditions have been met for everyone to be clued in as to what happened. Clearing up the issue of what was said usually qualifies as The Reveal (or, if the author hates you, The Unreveal).

Compare to: Jackhammered Conversation, Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation, Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene, Conveniently Interrupted Document. Contrast Exposition Cut, where the audience already knows what's being said and the characters can understand clearly.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the doublet arc of Ah! My Goddess, the only thing that can stop the demon's plan is for his doublet (Belldandy) to say his name. Every mention of Welsper's name in flashback scenes is blotted out until Belldandy remembers it (it had been blocked from her memory; the whole point of the doublet system is that the people involved aren't supposed to know who their doublet is) and says it out loud.
  • One scene of Ayakashi Triangle has Garaku make a suggestions to Shadow Mei shown as a single speech bubble with ellipses even as we sees Mei's pleased reaction.
  • The thing the Rail Tracer whispered into Rachel's ear in Baccano!!, which she eventually reveals when she relays the story to the Daily Days newspaper company: "Ticket, please."
  • In episode 10 of Season 2's Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, an angry Miharu berates Akihisa because of his treatment of the two girls in his class, Himeji and Minami. The former he treats like a princess, but the latter he treats like "one of the guys" and never seems to compliment her the same way. He later says something to Miharu, and although its inaudible, Miharu has an angry look on her face and claims he's lying. At the end of the episode, Kouta, one of his classmates, secretly recorded what he said, and plays it back so that their classmates (and Minami, who's just outside of the classroom), can hear it. He tells Miharu that he treats Minami that way because he feels very comfortable around her, and finds that he can be himself. He also finds her a little charming as well. Which causes Minami to fall in love with him again.
  • Bleach: Ichigo can hear the voice of his Zanpakutou, except when the sword tries to tell him its name. It's played differently between the original and the English dub. In the original, the voice is distorted when he says it. In the dub, it's clear, but Ichigo thinks to the audience that he didn't hear it.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma makes an obscured promise to a shapeshifting villain that apparently gets Misaka very flustered. In fact, it's because of this promise that she falls in love with him. It isn't until the end of the second series that we actually learn what he said. It was a promise that sounds similar to Zettai ni Mamoru. He promises to "guard the world that Misaka lives in."
  • As the image above shows, the manga version of Chrono Crusade uses a visual example, where the text in the bubble is scribbled out. Interestingly, that frame is when Rosette remembers the important promise being made, with the audience themselves being left in the dark until Joshua (the boy in the image) remembers it himself.
  • In Code Geass, The only time C.C.'s name is spoken it's replaced by the sound of a drop of water falling. Like the Evangelion example below, Jun Fukuyama actually did say C.C.'s real name, so presumably the main cast all knows it. (Unlike most anime, Geass was recorded in a studio with all the actors present to let them better play off each others' performances.)
  • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, Tengan's line is muted when he tells Munakata the identity of the killer.
  • In Episode 10 of DARLING in the FRANXX, Zorome talks to an old lady he accidentally falls in front of. Before some guards arrive to escort him back, he asks her if she can be his family when he becomes an adult and moves into the city, but then cuts himself off and asks to be her friend instead. She refuses, but her answer is obscured by static before it can be heard.
  • Parodied in the Excel♡Saga anime. The Man in the Iron Mask's final words to Nabeshin are drowned out by a passing train that appears out of nowhere just for the sake of making it inaudible.
  • In a filler arc of Fairy Tail, Levy faces off in a quiz show with Eclipse Capricorn, and the final question is who she likes. Levy, after hesitating for a moment, screams the person's name, but the sound goes mute as she does.
  • Four Knights of the Apocalypse uses this trope to reveal that Sin is faking his identity. In a dream he has, a strange woman says something in three dialogue clouds that prompts Sin to snap, "How do you know my name?" The text that would normally be in the clouds is replaced by a squiggly line. However, some fans used the scene to deduce ahead of time that the woman was enunciating "Lancelot", a name with three syllables. This was confirmed sixteen chapters later.
  • The first scene of Ghost in the Shell (1995): Motoko Kusanagi is spying on a meeting between a foreign diplomat and a computer programmer, discussing a 'Project 2501' that is behaving strangely. The programmer says that the project was originally intended to — but Batou calls Motoko mid-sentence. Project 2501 is 'the Puppetmaster', a sentient entity created by a confluence of digital information struggling to escape that Section 9 mistakes for a human super-hacker and pursues throughout the film. Motoko wasn't observing the meeting to gather information — she was just there to assassinate the diplomat.
  • Gintama: Used in their ending parody. "Gin-san... I have no idea what you've just said..."
  • In an episode of Haganai, Kodaka has a dream about his past, and when his friend mentions their name, you can see their mouth move, but its inaudible. Kodaka then wakes up shortly afterwards.
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya episode "Mysterique Sign", we have Emiri Kimidori have her stating of the Computer Club President's name interrupted by Shamisen meowing.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou episode 16, the first time Yorihisa has a flashback to his brother's death, his brother's last words are muted; the actual line — "Yorihisa, believe in yourself" — isn't revealed until the episode's climactic battle.
  • In the second episode of the OVA for Infinite Stratos, Houki gives a Love Confession to Ichika during a festival, but she says it just as some fireworks start going off in the distance, so he gets distracted by that.
  • In the animated adaptation of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, the protagonist revealing his name to Sakura is blocked out by the sound of the train they're on.
  • This happens at least once in Kimagure Orange Road, a show that tends to use a lot of comedic clichés.
  • This happens twice in Liz and the Blue Bird, both during pivotal plot moments:
    • When the in-universe "Liz and the Blue Bird" story is read, Mizore is compared to the lonely Liz and Nozomi to the fleeting blue bird who brought her happiness. Near the climax, the two of them individually come to a realization about this, which is represented through a split-screen: "Mizore is Liz, and Nozomi is the blue bird. Except that right now..." and then it cuts off. The exact meaning of this is unclear, and deliberately so; the likely answer is that Nozomi is supposed to be Liz and Mizore is supposed to be the blue bird, but it's equally likely that they are each other's blue bird.
    • At the end, Nozomi and Mizore walk side-by-side after having come to terms with their relationship and mutual envy, when suddenly Nozomi turns to Mizore and says something. We don't hear what she says, but Mizore is left visibly shocked and blushing. Smash cut to the end titles.
  • One scene in Love Hina has Keitaro apologize to Naru. Naturally, a firework goes off during the most important word of "It's all my fault!", Naru thinks he's blaming her, and punches him.
  • The psychological mystery manga Lying Mii-kun and Broken Maa-chan: Precious Lies by Iruma Hiruma features a very similar visual trick: the boy known throughout the book as "Mii-kun" is revealed to be a substitute for the original Mii-kun, who was also the real serial killer, and the unknown third kidnapped child from 10 years ago. The real Mii-kun screams the fake's name at one point but the text is scribbled out. Later, a detective calls the fake by his real name, but it's X'd out. He then recalls his mother speaking a 4-letter word that's also X'd out, and finally when "Mii-kun" had a monologue about his feelings for Maa-chan, he says "I really xxxx you" deliberately making it ambiguous whether what he said was "love," "hate" or something else entirely. We never find out what these omissions are.
  • In the anime of Magic Knight Rayearth, Zagato tells Emeraude that he loves her in the final episodes of season 1, but the viewers don't get to hear it—though Alcyone does.
  • Melody of Oblivion, when Sayoko is talking to Bokka as the door to the maze closes, and (audience only) what the Melody says to Bokka in the final episode.
  • In My Hero Academia, Hawks, the #2 Hero, who'd infiltrated the League of Villains, tells Dabi, a member of the group, that he'd investigated the backgrounds of all the League members, but couldn't find anything on Dabi or Shigaraki (whose identity is known to the readers, and a handful of characters). Hawks asks Dabi who he is, and Dabi responds with a completely black speech bubble, before declaring that he's the one Hawks should have been most worried about. Before long, the reader learns Dabi's identity at the same time as the rest of the world does.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • In End of Evangelion, during Ritsuko Akagi's death scene, one of Gendo Ikari's lines is muted for no obvious reason, and we never find out what he was saying. Especially annoying because the line looks to be very important.
      Gendo: The truth is [dramatic pause] [inaudible].
    • In this case, Hideaki Anno whispered the real line to Yuriko Yamaguchi (Ritsuko's VA) in order to get the appropriate reaction out of her. So both of them know what it is, but they ain't telling. Originally there was supposed to be an explosion or some such loud noise at that point to drown out Gendo's words. Some viewers have gone back through the whole series to piece together clues to narrow down the possibilities of what Gendo might have been saying to Ritsuko. A collection of theories as to the silent line exist. NSFW. Yuriko has actually alluded to what she personally thinks Gendo said.
      Yuriko: Gendo did tell Ritsuko something, it's not simply a matter of Anno trying to be clever or leave the audience wondering. What could Gendo have said? Many of theorized it was simply, "I love/loved you." — but that seems too clean and simple, too trite, for Anno to make such a big deal about protecting the secret. Love is the obvious answer — and Gendo was never obvious. Personally, I'm content in believing Gendo said, "Ritsuko Akagi, I truly... needed you."
    • The manga finally caught up to this point and the line used there was "I loved you." As the manga's plot has differed from the anime series, this doesn't necessarily mean that this was the anime's intention all along.
  • In One Piece, we never hear what Kuma tells Rayleigh until two years in and out of story. We knew what it was about, that he was splitting up the crew to help them escape, but we didn't get most of the details on why until after that time had passed.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club Tamaki says something to Lady Eclair right before he jumps off the bridge to rescue Haruhi. What he says is revealed later in flashback.
  • PandoraHearts: When it was revealed that Xerxes Break had been tasked with fulfilling the Will Of The Abyss's wish, what she asked for is left a mystery to the audience. In the manga, the chapter simply ends with her request censored by dash lines, while in the anime the words are drowned out by the environment crumbling around them. Roughly three years later, the wish is finally revealed to the audience when Break reveals it to Sharon — she wants to be set free from the Abyss, as she suffers from a century-long case of I Just Want to Be Normal.
  • Psychic Squad has one of these in a Mexican Standoff between Minamoto and Kaoru.
  • The Place Promised in Our Early Days: Early on, Sayuri tells Takuya something that she's afraid will make him laugh, to which he assures her he won't. As she says it, though, the sound of a train covers up whatever it is. It isn't until about two-thirds through that we go back and learn it's really about the strange dream she's been having.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka's dream that opens episode one features Homura shouting something that we don't learn for nine episodes. Homura realized that Kyubey was offering Madoka a contract and was screaming for her not to accept it. Unfortunately, just as the viewer couldn't hear Homura, neither could Madoka.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Sonic X, when Sonic returns to his home world and reunites with Amy, she demands that he tell her how he really feels about her. His answer is muted, but Amy's reaction gives a general idea of what he said. The 4Kids dub is... a bit less subtle.
  • Twilight's Origins Episode in SPY×FAMILY has his original name covered in black bars whenever it's spoken. Given he's told to abandon his original identity upon becoming a spy and the whole thing was him Dreaming of Times Gone By, Twilight may have willed himself to literally forget his own name.
  • The manga Tokyo Babylon, precursor to X/1999, includes a promise between the two main leads made years before their second meeting, and only remembered by the elder of the two. They conversed rather innocently under a sakura tree, and a convenient blast of wind obscured Subaru's hearing... making him miss a critical part of their "promise".
  • Trigun: When Rem makes her Heroic Sacrifice to save Vash, she yells something at him that is cut off by the blast doors closing. Vash still takes this "something" as gospel some twenty years later. (The English version translates this as "Take care of Knives!" but in Japanese, the verb is missing. The dub relies on colloquial ambiguity, as the phrase could mean either to save Knives or to kill him.)
  • Uta∽Kata: Manatsu talking to Ichika in her dream.
  • In Video Girl Ai, Yota is searching through his memories and recalls his last conversation with Moemi. Due to the drug Ai gave him, Yota cannot remember her at all and Moemi's line is left partially obscured with her words being "Please take care of..."
  • At the end of their showdown in X/1999, a dying Seishiro whispers something to Subaru. All the audience hears is "I ... you."
  • In Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Sonoko's revelation to Togo of what lies beyond the barrier is covered by a message from Yuna. It's not long after this Togo goes see the truth for herself, causing her to vomit from the horror of it all.

    Comic Books 
  • The trope is played straight in the Sin City story "The Big Fat Kill", where a great deal of trouble could have been avoided if a passing helicopter had not obscured the line "He's a cop!"

    Fan Works 
  • In Deserted Distractions, due to wearing earbuds, Tea and Ryou don't hear the announcement that school is closed or the librarian locking up. Similarly, the librarian doesn't hear their laptop fan or linger enough to hear their reactions after she turns off the lights.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, the end of Red Hood's line after a fight with Batman is obscured by a passing train. Later, it becomes a Wham Line when Batman enhances the recorded audio and discovers that Red Hood knows his real name.
  • In Pinocchio, Geppetto is searching for Pinocchio in the rain when Stromboli's cart, with Pinocchio caged inside, passes by. He calls out one more time, but is drowned out by thunder.
  • In Shrek the Third, it takes poor Fiona three tries to tell Shrek she is pregnant, because of the boat horn. When she actually manages it he's too far out of range to continue the conversation, although he does actually get the message.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future: When Marty tries to tell Doc about the future while the latter is on top of the clock tower:
    Marty: (shouting up at Doc) On the night I go back, you will get—
    (The clock strikes ten, drowning out Marty and startling Doc)
  • In Blazing Saddles, when Bart approaches Rock Ridge, Gabby Johnson's message to the town that its new sheriff is Black getting interrupted by the town bell.
  • The Conversation starts with Harry Caul spying on and recording the title conversation. He can decypher most of it easily, except for one whispered sentence. When he finally cleans up the recording, it's a Wham Line. It becomes a Wham Line again later when he realizes that the sentence meant something different than he thought.
  • Deadtime Stories: Volume 1: In "House Call", the mother phones the doctor and tells there is something wrong with her son. However, when she she says "He thinks he is turning into a...", the final word is obscured by a crash of thunder. The word was 'vampire'.
  • A unique variant appears at the end of Entrapment. Robert MacDougal escapes from police custody, leaving Virginia Baker and several police officers at a train station. After the officers leave, frustrated by the thief's escape, MacDougal appears and asks Baker what she wants to do next. Baker explains a plan that is drowned out by the passing of a train through the station, directly between the two characters (standing on two platforms). What exactly the plan is never gets explained.
  • In From Russia with Love, Robert Shaw plays a Russian assassin, Grant. Immediately prior to meeting James Bond, there's a scene in which Grant dupes and kills another agent, and his dialogue is deliberately too quiet for the viewer to hear. His assumed English accent when he finally talks to Bond is thus that much more surprising. Grant is English, a criminal recruited by SPECTRE. Bond only assumes he's Russian because he doesn't know yet that SPECTRE has been playing the British and Russians off against each other so they can get the Lektor. In the original novel he's stated to be from County Armagh in Ireland, but this doesn't seem to be the case in the film.
  • The Bride's name in Kill Bill is bleeped out until halfway through the second movie; this is more of a theme-based voice cancellation — the point at which we first hear her name coincides with the point at which we begin to see her as less of a pissed-off, vengeful force of nature, and more of a wounded and put-upon human being. Though we can see her name earlier in the story on her airplane ticket. Also many characters refer to her by her last name: Kiddo, though until her full name is revealed, the viewer is not aware of it.
  • In The Lady Vanishes, Ms. Froy tries to introduce herself to the heroine but loud train noises cancel out what she is saying. This prompts Ms. Froy to write her name on the window, which turns into a Chekhov's Gun later when the heroine sees the writing again, proving to herself that she was not imagining their encounter.
  • In My Little Chickadee, a train whistle is used to cover up that the main characters never actually pronounced their marriage vows.
  • Narrowly averted in The Neverending Story. Bastian declares the Empress' new name in the middle of a raging storm, making it seem as though he's yelling incoherently — but if one listens closely, you can hear Barret Oliver calling out "MOON-CHI-ULD!" Since he named the Empress after his mother, this has rather interesting implications. Apparently his grandparents were hippies. One wonders if the use of Dramatic Thunder and the soundtrack to cover the name up was a stylistic choice on the part of the director, so that each viewer could imagine the name to be whatever they wanted (example: "Moriah!"), or if it was unintentional. The German dub of the film makes the line much clearer, avoiding this altogether.
  • About two-thirds of the way through North By Northwest, the Professor explains the whole "George Kaplan" scenario to Thornhill at the airport, and his voice is drowned out by the roar of plane engines. This is actually a rather clever inversion of the trope, in that we the viewers already know about the stuff he's talking about, so making the conversation inaudible is sparing us from the redundancy.
  • Done to hilarious effect in Luis Buñuel's The Phantom Of Liberty.
  • This is used for a more romantic ending to Public Enemies. When John Dillinger dies, he whispers something which a fed pretends not to have heard. He only just barely heard it and it didn't make much sense to him, but he relates it to Dillinger's lover, forming the last line of the film. "Tell Billie for me: bye-bye, blackbird."
  • In Rushmore, when Max tells Mr. Blume's wife that he's having an affair, he meets her on a highway overpass (no reason for this location is ever given) and what he says is inaudible due to the sound of a truck going by, but it's evident from her horrified reaction. In the script, he says, "Your husband's fucking a schoolteacher, pardon my French. I thought you should know."
  • In The Spanish Prisoner, this is used to prevent the audience from ever learning where the process was hidden. Oddly enough, though, the line shows up clearly in the subtitles.
  • In Suspiria (1977), the heroine arrives at an exclusive ballet school in the midst of a storm. A student appearing outside her cab says something unintelligible. The student is killed shortly afterward. When the heroine finally realizes what she said it drives the plot toward its resolution.
  • In Up the Chastity Belt, Lurkalot asks the Voice who he really is, only for her reply to be drowned out by the dramatic thunder happening outside.
  • While in a tavern (in German uniform disguises) in Where Eagles Dare, Smith and Shaffer are having a discussion, and just as Smith starts to explain something the Shaffer, the scene cuts to Mary and Heidi laying the groundwork for infiltrating the castle. This is when Smith would have revealed parts of the real plan to Shaffer, including the fact that Christiensen, Berekely, and Thomas, the other three agents on the mission, are all German agents, something not revealed to the audience until later.
  • In the climax of Wonder Woman (2017), Diana is deafened by a nearby explosion that sets her ears ringing. Steve runs up to her to see if she's already and tell her something, but the ringing in her ears keeps the audience from hearing it clearly until his last line, where he says he has to go. After his Heroic Sacrifice, the scene is replayed, where it's revealed that Diana heard him just fine, but wasn't able to process what he was saying.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse has this occurring twice in a row as Nightcrawler tries to warn the people they are rescuing to stay away from the door that is about to be exploded. First, the glass in the "cage" is soundproof. And when he finds the PA system, most of what he says is eaten by static - though once they figure it out, they rush for a safe corner.

  • In Diamond Brothers: South by South East, the Almost Dead Spy's last words are made unclear by the sound of a passing train. Tim interprets them as the titular 'south by south-east', but only near the end of the story it becomes clear that the spy actually said "Sotheby's, Tsar's Feast", a reference to an auction house and a painting about to be sold there.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Slughorn's memories of a young Lord Voldemort are key to stopping him now. However, Slughorn is so ashamed of what he said that he has invoked this trope and obscured the memories. This is done with white fog in the book and muted sound in the film. It takes a lot of persuasion and a bit of luck to get the original memories, where it turns out that Voldemort asked about Horcruxes and Slughorn told him how to make them.
  • During the reading of the will in The Westing Game, the attorney reads, "the one who gets the windfall will be the one who finds the..." only to be interrupted by another character making a nervous joke. The attorney goes on to read the fourth point, and the will is neither repeated nor available for reading. Nothing, however, was actually read during the outburst, which was staged in order to distract the characters (and readers) from the fact that the "fourth" is exactly what the heir is supposed to find.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agatha Christie's Poirot adaptation of The Big Four, while Hercule Poirot is narrowing down the suspects until he gets closer to the true culprit, he gets a phone call from the mystery caller, whose voice we don't hear often, before heading for one apartment... and into a Death Trap in which he survives while faking his own death. After the confrontation with the mystery man, who is revealed to be Albert Whalley, while Poirot explains to his friends the whole story toward the end of the episode, we get a flashback to the same scene when he answers the same phone call, and this time, Albert's voice tells Poirot to come into his apartment for a supposed interview, in the hope of luring Poirot into the Death Trap... a trap that Poirot is clever enough to discover just in time to escape.
  • In Babylon 5 when the Minbari ship carrying their government is attacked by a ship from Earth, due to cultural misunderstandings and a more than reckless human captain, Delenn's mentor and revered leader of the government is injured. As he lays dying with all the screams and alarms going off Delenn doesn't hear his final words, The Reveal of her heritage, and what would play a key role in her future. He said to her, "You are a child of Valen."note .
  • In the Korean adaptation of Boys over Flowers (Boys Before Flowers), a passing plane drowns out what Jun Pyo says to Jan Di regarding their relationship.
  • Doctor Who:
    • An in-universe version happens in "The Trial of a Time Lord -- The Mysterious Planet," whenever Sabalom Glitz talks about the Matrix. It's the first clue that something is really fishy about this trial.
    • "The Big Bang": At the museum, Future Doctor appears via vortex manipulator and whispers to Present Doctor before collapsing. Present Doctor says he was from 12 minutes in the future, and now he's dead. Present Doctor leads the others up to the roof to await the inevitable. After the 12 minutes he's shot by a Dalek and vanishes. It turns out that he didn't really die before: he told Present Doctor to create a diversion so he could get to the Pandorica and set up the Big Bang 2.0 to reboot the universe.
    • "The Wedding of River Song": The Doctor whispers in River Song's ear to convince her to reset the timeline and kill him to preserve history. He tells Amy and Rory (and the audience) that he told her his name, but it is revealed later that he really said "Look into my eye." She does, and she sees that he's really a robot disguised as the Doctor, so she can appear to kill him and avoid altering the fixed point in time without actually killing him.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": (Man, Steven Moffat really seems to like this trope!) As the Doctor and Clara leave the Time Lord painting "No More"/"Gallifrey Falls", UNIT scientist McGillop receives a phone call; we don't hear the other end of the conversation. Toward the end, we learn who the caller was: the Doctor himself ("I'm a time traveller, figure it out!") He tells McGillop to move the painting to the Black Archive so that he and the other Doctors can hide themselves in it like the Zygons did and emerge to save the day.
  • EastEnders had a scene where Jack Dalton told Dennis Rickman the truth about what really happened to his father Den Watts. Predictably it was drowned out by the noise of a passing train. It wasn't until several weeks later that viewers learned that Dalton told Dennis that Den was alive.
  • Revenge of the killer example: The first name of Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted is never revealed. In one episode her full name is repeatedly mentioned over a telephone conversation but something in the background always creates a loud noise at exactly the right time. Funnily enough, she does casually reveal her first name in one of the earliest episodes, which the writers admitted was an example of "the kind of information you carelessly throw around [...] without realising that it had the potential to become this deep, dark secret." It's Joan, by the way.
  • Young Jae confesses his love just when the Zamboni machines zips by at an iceskating rink in the Korean Series Full House. Naturally, Ji Eun is left looking puzzled.
  • This was actually forced on the creators of The Greatest American Hero. The title character had the last name "Hinkley", which became pretty awkward when John Hinkley Jr. tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan shortly after the show began airing. He spent a lot of time being called "Mr. H." after that, but there wasn't enough time to do reshoots for the very next episode to air, so instead noises are obviously dubbed in every time someone calls him by name.
  • In one episode of House, Chase fatally misdiagnoses a patient immediately following a seemingly irrelevant phone call. Not until the end of the episode do we find out the phone call was his stepmother telling him his father died. (But that was actually a case of Unreliable Narrator.)
  • In the That '70s Show episode where Fez is introduced, he gives his full name to Hyde - which is drowned out by the school bell. (In actuality, Wilmer Valderrama was just reciting the names of all the lead actors to fill time.)
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a sketch involving a condition where a character makes a random sound instead of the key word in a sentence — making it very difficult to get their point across. Everyone in the sketch had it.

  • Lampshaded in The Drowsy Chaperone, when Aldolpho drops his cane so that the Chaperone's advice to Janet is unintelligible to the Man in the Chair. Does she say "Live while you can" or "Leave while you can"? This question haunts the Man in the Chair. (Though, given Janet's reaction and subsequent marriage to Robert, the former is probably correct.)

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
      • In the prologue, the residents of Twilight Town find themselves briefly unable to say the word "photo", because some Dusks sent in to steal some photos got confused and stole the concept of photos as well. It turns out that this is only possible because it's not the real Twilight Town, but a virtual copy of it.
      • In the very first of Roxas's dreams, two Organization members meet; only one is given vocal dialogue, while the other only gets the subtitles. Upon The Reveal where Roxas realizes that the silent member is himself, the scene is shown again, this time longer and with both characters speaking.
    • 358/2 Days plays with the scene again, showing us the ending of the scene for the first time except the final line is completely muted and not even subtitled. Near the end of the game, we hear it in flashback.
    • Comes up again in the Re:Mind DLC of Kingdom Hearts III. During a flashback, the enigmatic Master of Masters tells young Xehanort his real name. But all he says is "My name is-" with the name itself being muted.
  • In The Last of Us when Joel comforts Ellie after she's forced to violently kill David with a machete, he speaks a line of dialogue to Ellie which is muted and never revealed to the audience.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, TEC-XX reveals the extent of Grodus's plan to Peach, which is obscured from the player by cutting to the aftermath of the conversation. It's to save The Reveal for the Final Boss fight.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: After the first murders in Ep 1, Maria says that the murderer isn't human and that the people killed was just XXX chosen by the XXX. Unusually, it's just the readers who doesn't find out exactly what she said and while Battler heard her it was just so distanced from what had happened that he couldn't connect it. He finally understands what she said once he reads the Epitaph in Kinzo's study and the line On the first twilight, offer as sacrifice the six chosen by the key
  • Text example in NieR: Automata. At one point, 9S is told "You're thinking about how much you want to **** 2B, aren't you?" Considering 9S has a massive and poorly-disguised thing for his aloof partner, this just seems to be censorship. The truth is wrapped up in an unrelated sidequest and a game-changing endgame reveal. The endgame reveals that 2B has killed 9S numerous times when he got too curious to force him to revert to an older, more ignorant backup of his memories, and he'd like nothing more than to return the favor one day. The sidequest reveals that androids get a psychological reward response to killing an enemy that's modeled after the human hormonal state of "love". In short, the blanked out word stands for "fuck" and "kill" simultaneously.
  • Roughly the first 3/4 of Persona 5 are told in the form of an Interrogation Flashback after the main character is captured by police. However, he has been heavily drugged, and his memory is unclear. As a result, during several key scenes, the picture gets blurry and the characters' voices drop out.
  • Undertale: After the Human Child takes a fall in Waterfall, they experience a memory as a dream with an unseen person introducing themselves to someone, with the Child waking up before the voice in the dream gave their name.
    • In Deltarune, once the creation in the opening is finished, an unknown voice discards it and gives the player its own name but gets faded out as Kris is woken up.

  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Mooyoung tells Dongtae what happens when an S-ranker is born they effectively can become a god. Dongtae reacts with shock, but the explanation at the time is censored over.
  • Sleepless Domain: An odd visual variation on this is used in Chapter 12. It's established by that point that no one seems able to remember anything relating to the mysterious woman who appears in the Dream to grant powers to magical girls — with the sole exception of enigmatic Fourth-Wall Observer Anemone. Anemone takes advantage of this by telling Tessa about the woman's identity, causing her to immediately zone out and forget their prior conversation. The audience only sees static intrude on Anemone's dialogue, obscuring whatever she reveals about the woman.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Also done for laughs: when Timmy goes back in time and meets his parents as children, when Mr. Turner says his name a car passes and doesn't let the viewer hear it. The same happens when Mr. Turner says his future wife, then crush's name, and also mentioned it as the most beautiful name. Inexplicably, "Dad" and "Mom" have been their nicknames since childhood.
    • This was also done as the plot of a whole episode. Timmy gets fed up with noise constantly interrupting him, so he wishes for a world completely without sound. As per usual, this bites him in the ass when he finds out a meteor is headed straight for Earth and he can't wish it away due to not being able to speak, so he must unwish the no sound wish through charades.
  • In the Rocket Power episode "The Secret Spot", every time a character divulges the location of the titular secret spot, some background noise (an ice cream truck, planes flying overhead, etc.) drowns their voices out so the audience can't hear.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Burns, Baby Burns", when Larry Burns discovers a train with Mr. Burns on it, he asks the conductor where it is going. He tells him it's going to Springfield, but when Larry asks what state, the audience doesn't hear it due to the train whistle being too loud.


Video Example(s):


The truth is that it's--

Sonoko's revelation of what lies beyond the barrier is obscured by a message from Yuna.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / PlotBasedVoiceCancellation

Media sources: