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Preemptive "Shut Up"

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No need to even look at him.

"Shh! Even before you start. That was a preemptive 'shh!' Just know I have a whole bag of 'shh!' with your name on it."
Dr. Evil, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Alice tells Bob to shut up and he hasn't even said anything. However, she just knows that Bob's about to offer an opinion—or at least that he would be justified in doing so. This is often used to lampshade Hypocritical Humor or Blatant Lies, or to forestall the obvious answer when Alice has walked into a Double Entendre or Rhetorical Question Blunder.

Similar stock responses include "Don't Ask," "Don't say it," "Don't say a word," and "Not one word." For extra humor, the person being told to shut up is occasionally He Who Must Not Be Heard. Compare Inner Monologue Conversation.

When it's a lawyer saying this to a client, it's Don't Answer That.

It can be an effective source of Rapid-Fire Interrupting. See also Pre-emptive Declaration. Contrast Shutting Up Now.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ranma : When Nodoka finally meets her husband in the human form she knows him by, she insisting he explain where Ranma is. He takes a breath and says "I will tell you everything." before Nodoka cuts him off by calling him a liar and threateningly drawing her katana.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • One Zits strip has Connie yelling at Jeremy and Pierce to turn down the radio while they're looking at the case for a CD they plan to listen to. She explains that she was yelling at them preemptively because she's going out.

  • Earlier in a show, Eddie Izzard talks briefly about Prince Philip and his tendency to say un-PC things (specifically, to a group of British students in China, "Don't stay here too long or you'll end up all slitty-eyed."). Later on, he's brought up again, this time among the Greeks hiding inside the Trojan Horse:
    "Uh, hello. Oh! Have they gone? Oh, damn. Uh, we were just cleaning up. Yeah! I'm Agamemnon, this is Ajax, and this is Prince Philip of England. (beat) Don't say a bloody word! Do NOT say..."
  • In Bill Cosby: Himself, Bill Cosby criticizes a mother demanding an answer to a question she asks, then tells the answerer to shut up when they try to respond:
    Bill as mother: Day and night, night and day, work my fingers to the bone, and for what?
    Bill: I don't—
    Bill as mother: SHUT. UP! When I ask you a question, you keep your trap shut! You think I'm talking just to hear myself talk?! ANSWER ME!!

    Fan Works 
  • Raven does this to Beast Boy in this chapter of Adaptation by Cyberwraith9.
  • In Graeme Cree and Stuart Moore's MiSTing of Stan Heller's A Fable, moving east from the first location produces the following response:
    Max is in bed with his grandfather Willie.
    TOM: Shut up, Crow.
    CROW: Whaaat? I didn't say anything!
    JOEL: Well, just don't.
  • One of Marik's Evil Council videos starts with Marik silencing his minions...and then throwing in one more "SILENCE!"
    Bakura: Marik, nobody was saying anything.
    Marik: It was a pre-emptive silence!
    Bakura: Oh, so you silenced the silence. Good job.
    Marik: Yes, that silence didn't know what hit it!

    Films — Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Pacha tries out various potions to find the one that will turn Kuzco back to a human. After several failed attempts, Kuzco decides to choose which potion to use next. When it turns him into a whale, Kuzco says "Don't you say a word."
  • Jetsons: The Movie, when George walks in the house after getting stuffed into a sprocket box.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery has the bit between Dr. Evil and his son, Scott Evil, where Dr. Evil says "Shh" to anything Scott says, including almost trope-naming with "That was a preemptive Shh." Redone in The Spy Who Shagged Me with "Zip it!"
  • At one point, Jennifer Jason Leigh's character in The Hudsucker Proxy gives Tim Robbins an ass-chewing liberally sprinkled with very well-timed Preemptive Shut-Ups every time he starts to open his mouth in his defense.
  • In Snatch., the following exchange:
    Errol: Oi, fuckface, who's talking to you?
    Turkish: "Fuckface." I like that one, Errol. I'll have to remember that, next time I'm climbing off your mum.
    Brick Top: [to Errol] Not now.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, when Phillips rejects Steve's request to go and save the 107th (which included his best friend).
      Agent Carter: [breathes in]
      Colonel Phillips: If you have something to say, right now's a perfect time to keep it to yourself.
    • In The Avengers, Captain America needs to get somewhere with his team. When he runs into slight resistance, his presence is enough.
      Steve: Son, just don't.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Loki is already snarking profusely at Thor's flying skills, so when Thor crashes into a buliding in the city, he turns to Loki and says "Not a word!" before Loki can comment on it.
  • Father Goose has one right at the end.
  • Big Fat Liar: Frank to Jason before giving him and girlfriend a ride.
  • From Pink Flamingos.
    Baabs: I'll handle this. (Turns to her mother, who hasn't said a word) Mother, shut up.
  • In Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Obi-Wan are infiltrating the Separatist flagship when R2-D2 momentarily bungles their infiltration. Anakin, anticipating Obi-Wan's famous wit, jumps to the pre-emptive defense of his droid.
    Anakin: Hey, no loose wires jokes.
    Obi-Wan: Did I say anything?
    Anakin: He's trying!
    Obi-Wan: I didn't say anything!

  • In Harry Potter, Ron occasionally tells Hermione "drop it" when he anticipates Hermione being in the process of arguing to Harry about something.
  • Watership Down. When Captain Holly turns up unexpectedly from their old warren, raving mad and on the point of death, Bigwig abruptly cuts off any attempt by the other rabbits to question him, because he needs rest.
    "Shut up," said Bigwig, before anyone had asked a question.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In That '70s Show, when Kelso shows up for the police academy not knowing that his friends gave him a Hitler mustache, his sergeant walks right up in his face, asks Kelso to explain himself, and yells for him to shut up before Kelso can even twitch.
  • Claire does this a lot to Cliff in the Diet Episode of The Cosby Show.
  • Angel: Angel gives one of these to Spike in the episode "Smile Time" when Spike discovers that Angel has become a puppet. It doesn't work, so Angel attacks in Berserker Rage.
  • On Friends, Chandler proposes a rather transparent con to try and fool Joey. Monica responds by saying, "Don't you think Joey will figure that out?" She then immediately realizes how unlikely that is and cuts off Chandler's rebuttal with, "I heard it."
  • From Sherlock:
    Sherlock: [examining a crime scene] Shut up.
    Lestrade: I didn't say anything!
    Sherlock: You were thinking. It's annoying.
  • Babylon 5 has a scene where Londo challenges an agent of the Regent to arrest him. After a confident boast, he is standing in the cell with G'Kar, who he pre-emptively snaps "Shut up" at.
  • NCIS, "The Good Samaritan":
    Gibbs: Don't say it, DiNozzo.
    Tony: I wasn't gonna say anything.
    Gibbs: Don't think it.
    Tony: Too late.
  • Dorothy gets in a few of these on The Golden Girls, usually phrased something like "Not a word, Ma!" or "Shut up, Ma!"
    • One of the crowners, when Sophia was about do deliver what would have been a doozy, Dorothy turns and says "One word and I cut off your supply of Metamucil."
    • Sometimes the "Shut up" wouldn't even be verbal. In the episode where Blanche's gay brother introduces his serious boyfriend to the girls and says they plan on getting married, he remarks "I'd do anything for Doug, and he'd bend over backwards for me!" Sophia opens her mouth...and Dorothy immediately puts her into a chokehold. "Sometimes I just love to hug my mommy!"
    • Dorothy would also occasionally use food to help keep Sophia's snark at bay.
      • In another episode, Blanche's daughter Rebecca wants to have a baby via artificial insemination, much to Blanche's chagrin: "I have a reputation in this town!" Without missing a beat, Dorothy shoves a forkful of dessert into Sophia's mouth: "Cheesecake, Ma."
      • On another occasion, Dorothy shoves a cookie inside Sophia's mouth before she gets to say something potentially rude.
  • Quote Beckett, in an episode of Castle, as they break into a guy's van, in which he's busy using a large saw to break into a safe:
    Kate Beckett: Take your hand off your tool, Marco! [beat — to Ryan and Eposito, who are trying not to crack up] Shut up.
  • Bottom Live: When Richie learns he's about to be brutally murdered, he protests "I'm too young to die!" then quickly adds "Shut the fuck up!" before Eddie can get a word in.
  • Supernatural. In "Meet the New Boss", Death has been freed from a spell the Winchesters used to bind him. As The Grim Reaper calmly eats fried pickles, Sam silently indicates to Dean that a grovelling apology might be in order.
    Dean: Umm—
    Death: Shut up, Dean. I'm not here to tie your shoelaces every time you trip.
  • In the later M*A*S*H seasons, Colonel Potter has come to know his officers (particularly Hawkeye) well enough to deliver one a couple of times, mostly during discussions in which the doctors are likely to start complaining or about to throw an insult or two around. In one episode, he even preempts Margaret demanding that he tell Hawkeye to shut up.
    Potter: Hawkeye, before Major Houlihan tells me to tell you to shut up, shut up.
  • Roseanne:
    • Dan is blasting the girls for hurting Roseanne's feelings (took her to a beauty salon under the guise of being nice for Mother's Day when in fact they just wanted permission to go to an out of town concert). Becky sasses him, Dan snaps at her to "shut up", then turns to Darlene and declares, "and just to get it out of the way, you shut up too!"
    • On another episode, after everyone's heard about Dan beating up Jackie's boyfriend for hitting her, Roseanne says they've become poor white trash, and all they need is "some halfwit sitting in the front lawn eating dirt." Just then, D.J. walks in; just as Darlene is about to say something, Roseanne tells her to shut up.
  • In an episode of Coupling, Jane's boyfriend recognizes Susan from somewhere, but he can't place her. He asks if she works in a hospital, because he keeps picturing her in a nurse's uniform. Upon him saying it, Steve immediately snaps, "Thank you Jeff, that will be all! (he takes a beat to realize Jeff isn't even in the building) He's not here, is he? Oh God, I've internalized him!"
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor unleashes a string of them during his "Eureka!" Moment in "Time Heist".
  • White Collar: When Peter and Jones are in the van watching Abigail and Diana talking, Peter asks about what kind of person would stop in the middle of a museum robbery to get a date. He immediately tells Jones not to say it.
  • In the Red Dwarf XII episode "Timewave", Rimmer cites a Space Corps Directive then adds "Shut up, Kryten" without pausing for breath, in reference to the old Running Gag of Kryten quoting the directives he cited and revealing them to be entirely irrelevant because he'd got the numbers mixed up.
  • Bewitched offers:
    Samantha: Oh, Esmeralda. What would we ever do without you?
    Darrin: (brightens up, opens mouth)
    Samantha: (quickly) Don't answer that, Darrin.
  • The West Wing: In the first season episode "Lord John Marbury", Zoey, the First Daughter, asks Charlie, President Bartlet's aide, out on a date. Naturally, President Bartlet's Papa Wolf instincts click in, and he's not happy about it, and even though he puts Charlie off temporarily because he's in the middle of dealing with an international crisis, he expresses his displeasure to Leo:
    President Bartlet: He (Charlie) wants to go out with Zoey. (Leo smiles) Shut up!
  • Young Sheldon: In "White Trash, Holy Rollers and Punching People", at the obstetrician's office with Mandy, Connie tells a couple at the waiting room to mind their own business before they even say a word.

  • Cabin Pressure: When Carolyn's giving Douglas and Martin a bollicking, every time Martin tries to interject she tells him to shut up.
  • In John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, season 9 episode 4, when a young Vanessa is trying to tell Uncle Newt the story of Cinderella, she gets so flustered by his Fridge Logic interruptions that she eventually finishes a sentence with "and I said I'm not answering any more questions!" without even pausing.

    Video Games 
  • In Psychonauts, Lili gives one to Raz after he grimaces because of her ranting about a comic book.
  • In Star Control Origins, a Menkmack says this when he relates the story of his race finding an enormous cache of fake ears on an unknown world: "Now, I know what your next question is. Don't ask. It's a weird galaxy, we found an ear cache, it happens, shut up!"
  • In Saints Row: The Third, if you pick the "Save Shaundi" ending, the Boss delivers this snappy line to Cyrus Temple when he confronts the Saints for defusing his attempt at a False Flag Operation.
    Boss: Unless the next word out of your hole is "thank you", we got a serious fuckin' problem.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "Green Isn't Your Color", Rarity and Fluttershy are both unhappy about Fluttershy's modelling career, but pretending to be excited so as not to hurt the others' feelings, and confide in Twilight. Twilight realizes that just talking would solve everything, but whenever she tries, Pinkie appears out of nowhere and looks threateningly at her to remind her that keeping secrets is Serious Business.
    • In "Where The Apple Lies", we see a flashback where a younger, more talkative Big Mac repeatedly tries to talk Applejack out of adding to her ever growing pile of lies. At one point, when he's about to start lecturing her yet again, she unceremoniously stuffs an apple in his mouth.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • From the special "Summer Belongs to You":
      Dr. Doofenshmirtz: I know what handcuffs are, I'm not an idiot! [glares at Perry the Platypus] And not one word out of you!
    • Another one in "We Call It Maze":
    Phineas: Labryinths should be cool, fun, and exciting! Ferb...
    Ferb: [holds up a hand] You don't even need to say it.
  • In Batman Beyond, a group of gangsters are having a card game, despite the new Royal Flush Gang staging various crimes themed around cards. After being attacked by them, one mobster smacks another.
    Mobster #2: What was that for?
    Mobster #1: For saying "I told you so"!
    Mobster #2: But I didn't!
    Mobster #1: Well, you were gonna!
  • Regular Show episode, "Picking Up Margaret'":
    Margaret: Wait, are you sure you want to give me a ride and not because someone bet you could or...?
    Mordecai: Pfft, What? C'mon! When have I... [Rigby starts to say something behind him, Mordecai instantly points to him without looking] BE QUIET!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Patty Caper" when SpongeBob tells Mr. Krabs the Krabby Patty secret ingredient has been stolen and gives its clues and Mr. Krabs decides to put the blame on SpongeBob himself, he silences the sponge (complete with Hand Gagging) and says "Don't talk!" when he tries to say he didn't do anything about it.
    • During the climax of "Greasy Buffoons" when Mr. Krabs and Planktons' grease meals go too far, SpongeBob summons the health inspector. When asked about it, SpongeBob tries to say "They've been feeding people grease!", but before he could say the word "grease", he is constantly interrupted by the two in one way or another. This in turn leads to an Overly-Long Gag of them interrupting him before he finally gets the whole sentence out.
  • Archer: "And you never mind and also shut up."
  • The Quack Pack episode "Need 4 Speed" has Donald Duck yell "No!" at every argument his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie give against his refusal to buy them a car. Huey and Dewey are the only ones who actually say anything, as Donald yells "No!" when Louie does nothing more than raise his finger and open his beak.
  • Freakazoid!: When Freakazoid is about to beckon his enemy in one episode with "Well, if it isn't—", he's preemptively told to shut up and not say his enemy's name by the enemy's captives. Freakazoid continues to bugger anyway until he fell victim of this enemy by saying his name: "You mean, 'Don't say 'Candle Jack'?'" (Ha!)
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had Bloo say several preemptive "Shut up"'s to Duchess as he and Mac steal her mattress and bedsheets.
  • Looney Tunes: In "Hollywood Daffy," Daffy Duck disguises himself as a movie director to fool the studio gate cop chasing him. Saying he can make the cop a star, Daffy says "What's Errol Flynn got that you haven't got?" Then he turns to us and says "Don't answer that!"
  • Danger Mouse tells Penfold to call him a cab at the end of "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat." But before Penfold can draw a breath, DM suddenly says "Don't you dare!!"
    Penfold: (sulking) Spoil sport!
  • Fillmore!: Subverted in "The Nineteenth Hole Is a Shallow Grave":
    (Fillmore, Ingrid and Vallejo are in Folsom's office, her back turned to all of them)
    Folsom: (swiftly turns to them) SILENCE!
    Vallejo: Uh... we weren't talking.
    Folsom: You weren't talking.
  • Futurama: In "Bend Her", when Bender and Zoidberg are left alone in the crowd at the Olympics, after a short pause, Bender says, "Shut up, Zoidberg! The bending games are up next!"
  • In the Teacher's Pet episode "Inspector Leadready II", after Ian had previously laughed at Spot for saying "touche" due to mishearing it as "tushy" and again for actually saying "tushy", Spot mentions Lake Titicaca at the end of the episode and tells Ian not to say a word when he starts to react.
  • King of the Hill: In "Boxing Luanne", Luanne describes Tae Bo as "a lot of punching and kicking, all set to music" (while demonstrating).
    Bobby: That sounds--
    Hank: No.
  • Inspector Gadget: In "Ghost Catchers", the female MAD agent to the male agent after her poisoned canapes plot fails:
    Female Agent: Don't even think it! (beat) Don't say a word.

    Real Life 
  • Attorneys often do this to their clients, not out of exasperation or any other ill-will, but to prevent said clients from saying something that might be used against them in the courtroom.


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