Follow TV Tropes


Silent Antagonist

Go To
As silent as the grave he's going to put you in.

This is the villainous counterpart to Heroic Mime; while the hero's silence makes them open to interpretation, the Silent Antagonist's silence makes them a sort of Enigmatic Minion, or in the worst of cases, an Unknown Rival or an utterly implacable force of nature. There is just something deeply uncomfortable about a character who commits various abominable acts without so much as a peep from the perpretator, their indifference making them seem utterly inhuman.

A Subtrope of He Who Must Not Be Heard. The Supertrope of Enemy Mime. Sister Trope to Enigmatic Minion. See also Soft-Spoken Sadist, who does speak, but is very calm and relaxed.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • None of the villains featured so far in Digimon Adventure tri. spoke a single word leaving their motives and personalities unknown. This includes the Digimon Emperor, Alphamon, Imperialdramon, the resurrected Dark Masters, and Yggdrassil. Gennai is the only aversion to this trope so far as he speaks while revealed to be the bad guy.
  • In Dragon Ball, Evil Buu remains completely silent for the one chapter he appears in. Dragon Ball Z, however, gives him a few lines of dialogue to increase the episode's runtime.
    • Janemba from Fusion Reborn! never actually spoke. In his first form, he was only able to say his name over again and his second form only consists of maniacal laughs or growls.
    • Kid Buu speaks broken sentences in the original Dragon Ball Z, but doesn't speak a legible word in Dragon Ball Z Kai and the original manga.
  • Heavy Object has Dimiksy Nikolaschka, who never talks any time he appears.
  • The Captain of Hellsing never speaks. In fact, the only time he shows any emotion at all is an Oh, Crap! when Alucard releases his Level Zero transformation, and a quick smile during his battle against Seras. And that only happens right before he dies, implying that he's a Death Seeker, which fits in nicely with a monologue said by Integra's father in a flashback.
  • Thirteen of the Seventeen Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion, the exceptions being Leliel, Arael, Arimisael, and Tabris (also known as Kaworu).
  • Subverted with Pica in One Piece. For about a dozen chapters or so after he was introduced, Pica never vocalized anything, not even screams or grunts. It also meant he would attack without calling them out, giving Zoro a difficult time. It turns out it was all a lead-up to a gag: Pica's voice is actually very high pitched, in contrast to his enormous, thug-like appearance. People make fun of him and laugh at him due to his voice, so he just stays quiet—not for his own embarrassment, but to avoid unnecessary death and annihilation through him retaliating.
  • Noro from Tokyo Ghoul is both The Voiceless and The Faceless, never making a sound even when suffering brutal injuries. His utter silence is one of many things creepy about one half of the Aogiri Co-Dragons. It isn't clear whether he simply chooses not to speak or is incapable of it.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash foe Murmur has got his tongue cut out and his lips sewn together.
  • In Joker, Harley Quinn of all people is this. She does do some awesome stuff (and look damn good doing it), though. This might just be because Harley's usual characterisation wouldn't gel with the comic's atmosphere so well. It's implied she is capable of speech since she's shown opening her mouth in several panels as if mid word, but since the story is told from the point of view of a man named Jonny the implication is he's not paying attention to what she's saying as part of his general issues with women.

    Fan Works 
  • Angel of the Bat: The Dragon in the second story, "The Odmience" is entirely silent, eventually revealed to be caused by his vocal cords being severed. He does scream in the climax (which one can do without vocal cords) and is gifted an electrolarynx in the epilogue, after his redemption, granting him the ability to speak.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, after Android #13 fuses with the remains of #14 and #15, he becomes completely silent, never speaking a single word beyond grunts as Dr. Gero orders him to execute Goku in vengeance. Gero is quite relieved by this, having tried and failed to patch his exaggerated Southern accent previously in his base state.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: After Darth Nihilus takes over Jaune's body and reveals himself to the heroes, he spends his first major appearance being almost completely mute, which highlights his unsettling and inhuman nature. This gets subverted later on when Nihilus speaks while offering to make Cinder his apprentice.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Night King is the only one of the Wolf's opponents not to answer his crude taunts and fights in complete silence. This only gives the Wolf more ammo.
    I'd threaten to cut out your tongue, but I can see you are so slow of wit that it would be useless to do so. Assuming, of course, that you even had a tongue to remove, and that it didn't snap off inside one of your slave's arseholes not long before your cock suffered the same fate.

    Film Animation 

    Film Live-Action 
  • In Angel (1984), The Killer never speaks on screen, even seeming to pick up hookers via body language, but there is no indication that he is mute.
  • Kiriyama from the film version of Battle Royale.
  • Cropsy in The Burning never utters a word, he just screams when he is in pain.
  • The Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier spends most of the movie as this, and it's creepy as hell. It's also a change from the comics, probably because Bucky Barnes' actor has a pretty distinctive voice.
  • The Thin Man in the first Charlie's Angels (2000) movie. He originally had lines in the script, but they decided he'd be more villainous if he was The Voiceless.
  • The half-masked man who hands out tickets in Demons. In his case, the fact that he never speaks seems to convey contempt more than it does active menace.
  • Katya, the blond assassin in the Die Hard film Die Hard with a Vengeance, who utters only a single sound (a frustrated scream) in the entire film. Originally, she was explicitly intended to be mute and have a visible scar on her neck, but this wasn't included in the final film. Ironic, given that the actress who plays her, Sam Phillips, is a noted singer in real life.
  • Colonel Gunther Reza in Duck, You Sucker! speaks a grand total of two lines, both during his first appearance. From that point on he's completely silent, a fact that only makes his Implacable Man status all the more disturbing.
  • Unlike in the comics, Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a sentient cloud, and thus all the communication he would convey is left to his herald.
  • Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, in his case, he is a barely sentient Idiot Savant.
  • Michael Myers from Halloween. The only sound he makes is heavy breathing, which along with many of his odd mannerisms makes him creepily inhuman. The remake did in fact have him talk, but only as a child. In the sequel, he got one word in as an adult, "Die!"
  • Karl Ruprect Kroenen from the film version of Hellboy. The comic version not only speaks but is quite Affably Evil.
  • Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He meets Indy face to face, but doesn't say a word. A variation in that he's not an antagonist in the context of the scene, because he doesn't know who Indy is. Indy is wearing a stolen Nazi uniform and is remaining silent himself, so Hitler assumes he is just another autograph-seeking soldier. He takes Dr. Henry Jones's book from Indy and signs it, then promptly gives it back without realizing that it was the diary he was trying to get his evil mitts on in the first place.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger's top henchman and butler, Oddjob, can't speak English, so he doesn't talk. Other than the painful scream he emitted as he was electrocuted.
    • Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me. He also counts for most of Moonraker but it's finally subverted when he gets one line near the end of the film.
    • Mr. Hinx from Spectre, a big, no-nonsense badass who proceeds to give Bond the absolute fight of his life. The only time he speaks at all is when Bond is about to send him out of a train via a rope and a really heavy weight, and he just says one word: "Shit..."
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 features Ares, an assassin who, unlike the above example, actually is explicitly mute; however, while she can't verbally communicate, she does speak through sign language several times and is understood, making this a Downplayed use of the trope.
  • Victoria in New Moon, the second Twilight film, is very active as an antagonist but never says a word. It's zig-zagged, though: in a deleted scene, she reminisces about her dead mate to a pair of humans whom she's about to kill; if left in, that would have been the only scene in the film in which she spoke, and she speaks freely in both the first and third films. This is somewhat in keeping with the books, in which she is voiceless in the first, is an entirely offscreen menace in the second, and doesn't appear until the climax of the third in which she is Suddenly Speaking.
  • The 2004 film version of The Punisher features The Russian, a hulking assassin with no dialogue whatsoever. Oddly, this is the only incarnation of The Punisher where The Russian is silent; he's perfectly capable of speaking in the comics and video games.
  • The Rocketeer has Lothar, The Dragon to Neville Sinclair. He only ever says three sentences and one word in the whole movie. This doesn't make him any less scary though.
  • Kyle and Ken Katayanagi in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, unlike their comic book counterparts.note 
  • Ghostface from Scream zig-zags this trope. While he does not speak on screen (though he can still make quite a bit of noise as he lunges or if he's injured), he threatens his victims over phone calls.
  • Kevin from Sin City. Apparently, he spoke only to Cardinal Roark and "had the voice of an angel" but the audience never hears him.
  • The Mysterious Woman from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  • Star Wars:
  • Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
  • Rinzler, The Dragon in TRON: Legacy, is mute for 99% of the film. It's not just to make him creepier; it's because Rinzler is Tron, reprogrammed to serve the villains, and hearing his voice would spoil The Reveal. When he does speak, it indicates that he's himself again. The only word he speaks before is "USER!" is his debut scene, which is hardly recognizable as Tron's voice.
  • The Baseball Furies gang in The Warriors never utter a word, even as they fight the Warriors. (They do grunt a bit as they're punched or clubbed, but that's it.)
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Future Sentinels do not speak or make any sort of noise, which is bad for any mutant trying to hide as they can creep up on you and you wouldn't know it until it be far too late.

  • Benny Rose, the Cannibal King: Benny Rose, the main antagonist of the book, never speaks but instead communicates in glares and sadistic body language.
  • Lord Vile from Skulduggery Pleasant doesn't speak until Death Bringer. He whispers Valkyrie's name before snapping out of it.
  • Almost all of the Demons from The Elfstones of Shannara are like this, except for their boss, the Dagda Mor, who has one line of dialogue. Most notable is the Reaper, who is silent, faceless and implacable, pursuing the two main characters tirelessly for most of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tuco's cousins in Breaking Bad fulfill this criteria, like a pair of Mexican Terminators.
  • Played to horrifying effect in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" with "the Gentlemen", a group of demons/monsters/whatever-the-hell-they-are who show up to steal people's voices and rip out hearts. Throughout the episode, they never utter a word, just grin at each other and use gestures... and yet they still manage to be absolutely terrifying.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Waters of Mars", the Flood says all of a few lines through one of its victims, and then never says a word again Inhuman screeching and roaring, on the other hand... Used to great effect, since the focus of that episode wasn't on the Flood at all, but the Doctor's own rapidly unraveling mental state.
  • In Game of Thrones, the only vocalizations the White Walkers ever make is a sort of shrill screech, and even then it only happened twice (once in Season 2 and once in Season 3). It's unknown if they either can't speak, choose not to speak, or don't understand/haven't bothered to learn the Common Tongue that mankind uses.
    • Their leader, the Night King, never speaks a word in any language on-screen. This simply adds to the feeling of him being more of a force of nature than an actual, emotion-driven person.
    • The Mountain counts as well, as throughout the majority of the series, he really doesn't verbalize much if anything at all and seems to lose whatever speech he's capable of upon becoming whatever Qyburn made him.
  • This is what Charlotte Page becomes in the Henry Danger episode "The Beat Goes On" after she is musically brain warped by Dr. Minyak.
  • Lab Rats: Any bionic human who is under the influence of the Triton App becomes this.
  • Twin serial killers Robert and Nicholas Millberry from Series 2 of Luther never communicate while hunting, spending their whole first episode and most of their second in total silence. Robert doesn't talk until after his arrest, and Nicholas only speaks to Luther during their last confrontation, when body language alone will not do the trick.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Incident on and Off a Mountain Road", the villain Moonface fits the typical mute serial killer character. His only sort-of dialogue is shushing his victims to be quiet while he tortures and murders them.
  • This is basically the point of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Silent Enemy". Aliens show up and menace the Enterprise, but refuse to respond to any hails, save for playing back an edited version of a message Archer had sent to them. But no alien voice is ever heard and the crew never does figure out what exactly they were doing, nor why they were doing it.
  • Karla the head of Moscow Centre, played by Patrick Stewart in the BBC adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, appears in just one short scene; a flashback in which he is interrogated in a Delhi prison cell by Alec Guinness as George Smiley. He doesn't say a word, barely twitches an eyebrow, and pockets Smiley's engraved gold cigarette lighter. The scene is unforgettable.
  • The X-Files:
    • Flukeman in "The Host" is a humanoid radioactive parasite incapable of language.
    • The Peacock Brothers in "Home" seem to understand English, as their mother speaks to them, but they remain silent while onscreen.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Necrons: skeletal, alien robots with a heavy undead flavoring. One of their trademarks was being the mysterious faction as the motivations for their actions were inscrutable, largely because, well, they just never vocalized. Their origins and reasons for wars of conquest and genocide to abducting entire populations of humans just weren't known to many players who didn't read up on them, as well as even some of the most accomplished in-'verse scholars.
      • These days, a significant retrofitting to their lore changed them somewhat; while they still do the same things as before, their motivations are much less opaque and their leadership has been given considerably more personality as well as the ability to speak. Their rank and file are more or less unchanged however: after nearly 60 million years in stasis, the neural systems allocated to the common "citizens" of the Necron empires is, well, more faulty, and their cognitive faculties have decayed to the point of leaving them as little more than automatons.
    • The Sisters of Silence are, well, silent Anti-Magic women crewing the Inquisition's Black Ships, which abduct psykers and transport them to terra for conditioning into sanctioned and/or kill them to feed the God-Emperor. Note that they're a Necessary Evil: unsanctioned psykers pretty much inevitably fall to Chaos and end up summoning daemons or worse, while the killing of thousands of psykers is necessary to keep the Astronomican (a psychic "lighthouse" in the Warp) lit, without which interstellar travel is impossible for humans.

  • In The Golden Apple, Paris never speaks, though he hardly needs to talk when Hector is around.

    Video Games 
  • "Bendy" from Bendy and the Ink Machine never speaks. He growls and makes breathing noises, but that's it. Considering that his mouth looks painted on, he might not even be capable of speech.
  • Dawn of War: In Dark Crusade, the Necron Lord of All Kronus never speaks, and all banter is delivered through his Mouth of Sauron Thomas Maccabe (a Mechanicus remade into a Pariah). The only exception is when they attack the Chaos stronghold, where he says something in Black Speech to Eliphas the Inheritor. Eliphas, a Faux Affably Evil Smug Snake who communicates to the other commanders by telepathy, sounds genuinely rattled.
    Eliphas: I... your soul is gone!
  • Caim in Drakengard becomes this in the sequel (having lost his voice in the first game as the price for making a life-saving pact with a dragon), where he becomes a Rogue Protagonist.
  • Interestingly, not counting flashbacks, Sephiroth himself actually never speaks in Final Fantasy VII. This is most noticeable during the final encounter with him, where he doesn't say a single word. Most villains in the series give a speech of some sort before throwing down with the heroes, but Sephiroth? Nothing. The "Sephiroth" who appears for most of the game and is comparatively chatty is simply Jenova taking his form and acting out his will; the true Sephiroth spends much of FFVII sleeping in the planet's core, and thus can't speak. Subverted in Final Fantasy VII Remake: Sephiroth doesn't speak directly because he doesn't appear at all, but he talks to Cloud in his visions.
  • The Neighbor from Hello Neighbor never speaks, although he does gasp when he sees the player. In the ending of Alpha 3, he cries.
  • Hollow Knight has the titular Hollow Knight has the mute Big Bad. The Broken Vessel and Nosk also lacks any dialogues.
  • In Hotline Miami, this applies to the hitman when you fight him.
  • The King of Fighters XIV: Giant Space Flea from Nowhere final boss Verse is one. He just shows up at the end of the King of Fighters tournament, screams something that sounds like "verse" (hence the name) and attacks.
  • Darth Nihilus in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords technically "speaks" in bizarre language that is possibly generated telepathically. None of the major characters have any trouble understanding it (including the Player Character), but the player is left clueless, as his dialog is not subtitled, in contrast to all the other characters' lines, which are (even when they're speaking perfectly clear English). This serves to make him even more unsettling.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In Mass Effect 3, although possibly unintentionally, Harbinger comes off as one. You might expect a long exposition, but you just get shot instead. It's in stark contrast to his appearances in the second game.
  • Metroid:
    • The Space Pirates themselves initially started out like this, which better served to emphasize their alienness and made them come across as unthinking drones completely subservient to their leadership. The Metroid Prime Trilogy subverts this as, while the Pirates still don't speak beyond their roaring and warbling in-combat, their scannable logs quickly reveal a far more "human" side to them (such as backtalking their superiors and keeping pets) while still emphasizing their Lack of Empathy (not batting an eye at horrific experimentation on their own kind and expressing disdain of Chozo culture not related to technology or warfare).
    • Ridley, despite being a major antagonist and the one personally responsible for starting the series in motion by destroying Samus's home colony and killing her parents, never says anything beyond roaring. He doesn't even leave behind any written logs to scan from in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, instead we get our information from his underlings, who have implied that he's a cunning warlord who relishes in violence and death. He's quite chatty in the official Metroid manga and prequel however, so it's not like he's just some animalistic beast.
    • Dark Samus from the Prime trilogy is another major antagonist who never speaks or writes a word; this especially stands out in Corruption, which features fully voice-acted cutscenes, and of which she is the Big Bad. She is nonetheless able to formulate complex long-term plans and communicate them to her followers, so whether she only speaks offscreen or is capable of some other form of communication is left to interpretation.
  • Mother 3: The Masked Man does not talk at all... until Claus unmasks himself.
  • Bowser in Paper Mario: Sticker Star doesn't speak at all, and only gets voiced by Kenny James for his roaring. note . It makes Bowser rather menacing compared to the humorous and hammy portrayal he got in all the other Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games. Unfortunately, limited screentime in Sticker Star and the sheer amount of personality Bowser showed in those previous Mario RPGs undermined whatever the developers were going for, and players did not respond positively. The backlash lead to this interpretation of Bowser getting dropped from future Mario RPGs.
  • Path of Exile's previous Epilogue villain, the Elder, is a silent Eldritch Abomination whose sole existence to devour the imaginations of humans and spread the Eldritch Decay from beyond the void. It is capable of communicating, as evidenced by memories of how he tricked people into freeing him, but now it has no reason to. This is in contrast to the Shaper, who Was Once a Man and has many of his thoughts dispersed throughout scattered memories.
  • Mr. X, a recurring Elite Mook in Resident Evil 2 constantly hounds the protagonist and never makes a sound. When he is fought for the last time, he has mutated into a monstrosity and lets out a roar. Resident Evil 2 (Remake) keeps Mr. X quiet, but gives him subtle body language to make him look more menacing.
  • Tabuu from Super Smash Bros. Brawl doesn't say a thing throughout his entire storyline. While the other characters communicate through gestures and expressions, augmented by short grunts or exclamations (Snake is the only character to speak a full sentence) Tabuu doesn't say a thing. No Evil Laugh, no angry grunts, no screams of pain, nothing.

    Web Animation 
  • Israphel, from the Shadow of Israphel, never says a word in any of his appearances. Even his most recurring Co-Dragons, who have spoken a combined total of two words, are chattier. To get around this, he occasionally leaves mocking signs, but he does this less as the series goes along.
  • The Meta from Red vs. Blue is only capable of growling (a prequel episode shows that it was a consequence of being repeatedly shot in the throat), making him, in the words of Simmons, "the scariest fucking mute in the galaxy".
  • RWBY:
    • Neopolitan is mute, and her motives and identity are completely unknown, though she clearly has a connection with Roman Torchwick. What is known is she is a total badass: she defeated both Yang and Ruby with ease and slaughtered an entire Atlas airship full of trained soldiers on her own.
    • In the non-canon spinoff RWBY Chibi, Neo prefers to talk with signs for the sake of funny.

  • In Alice Grove, the tall, hulking Mr. Church (to date) has not said a word. However, he's demonstrated that he is a very dangerous foe of Alice and her friends by crushing Sedna's shoulder with one hand, taking a blow from a pipe to the head (and promptly tearing its wielder limb from limb), and catching Alice in the middle of a Flash Step as she tried to kill his master.
  • There are a few enemies in Awful Hospital who don't speak any lines, such as Molly Curdle and the X-Ray Skeleton. They are not to be trifled with.
  • Invoked in Goblins by one of the Alternate Universe Minmaxes; as a result of Min-Maxing, he traded away his ability to speak in exchange for becoming a more deadly combatant.
  • Nebula: Ceres; assuming that their unintelligible thought bubbles aren't meant to represent distorted speech, they don't say a single word in any of their appearances, even when Sun (who they both know could kill them with little to no effort) is glaring down at them and demanding to know what they're doing to the planets and what it is they want from him.

    Web Original 
  • Mannequin in Worm is incapable of speech, having severely modified his body and long since removed his mouth, digestive tract, lungs, and anything else similarly without use. Instead, he communicates by mocking gestures with his fingers.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • GOLB from Adventure Time doesn't speak a single word. Not even after Betty fuses with him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Combustion Man, who would rather blow stuff up with his mind than talk.
  • Skurge the Executioner, Annihilus, and Galactus do not speak at all during their appearances on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
  • X.A.N.A is one of the scariest foes in Code Lyoko without needing any words. All it needs is a computer to send monsters to deal with its problems.
  • Batman Beyond had the deadly assassin Curare, who never speaks in any of her episodes. Since Terry has a tendency to trade wisecracks throughout his fights, her silence, as well as her skill level, seems to draw an answering seriousness and maturity from Terry.
  • While vacationing, Hong Kong Phooey once encountered a pickpocket who never spoke.
  • The fourth season of The Legend of Korra features an apparent Enemy Without of the title character who appears to her in the Avatar state and dressed as she was when she fought the previous season's big bad. She never speaks the entire time she repeatedly beats up Korra, and what exactly she is remains ambiguous to the end.
  • King Sombra from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, in stark contrast to the loud and hammy villains like Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Queen Chrysalis, gets exactly five lines in his entire two-parter and none of which is longer than four words or said to any of the heroes. Word of God is that it was done to enforce that more than anything, he was an Advancing Wall of Doom waiting to lay waste to the Crystal Empire the second Princess Cadance's rapidly draining stamina gave out and her force field collapsed. Averted in his return during the two-part season 9 premiere, where he's surprisingly very talkative.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: The leech villain in "The Headsucker's Moxy" does not speak.
  • This is what Jinmay from Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! is in her first appearance when she was under Sakko's control.
  • Soundwave's Transformers: Prime incarnation, who has stopped talking on his own since coming to Earth. He "speaks" by replaying clips of other people talking (with the standard Soundwave voice effect underneath), and usually doesn't even bother with that unless prompted.
  • In The Venture Bros. Scare Bear is a masked, bloodied psychopath dressed in a bear suit wielding a knife. In all his appearances, he's said absolutely nothing but breathed heavily behind his mask. Even villainous organizations like The Guild of Calamitous Intent passed on his membership because he's just too damn creepy, even for supervillains.
  • Wallace & Gromit has the following examples:
    • Feathers McGraw from The Wrong Trousers never even squeaks. It adds to his mildly creepy act.
    • Beyond one growl (since he's a dog), Preston from A Close Shave never says anything. When he is revealed as a robot, he makes a quiet roar at his near-victims.
  • Lord Dominator in his (or rather, her) first appearance in the second season of Wander over Yonder. At least until the last scene.
  • Apocalypse from X-Men: Evolution is like this during his first appearances, though he finally talks during the Grand Finale.


Video Example(s):


The Mime

The Mime does not talk at all when he's a villain. He only does as ordered by Hawk Moth when communicating with him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SilentAntagonist

Media sources: