Follow TV Tropes


Silent Treatment

Go To

"Brave men tell the truth.
The wise man's tools are analogies and puzzles.
A woman holds her tongue
Knowing silence will speak for her."
— "Remind Me", Roysköpp

Want to really show your disapproval for someone? Just give them the dreaded silent treatment! While in some cases this may seem like a relief, this can be a very effective form of punishment and social isolation, especially if several people gang up to give one or more others the silent treatment. A common subversion nevertheless is that the person being subjected to the silent treatment is relieved that they no longer have to hear the other person speak.


This is a form of Emotional Abuse, especially by narcissists and bullies.

Could lead to Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him. Not to be confused with The Quiet Game.


Anime and Manga

  • In one chapter of The Hating Girl, after Asumi goes off on Ryouji for what she thinks is him publicly announcing that she's on her period, a note in the corner of the last panel states that she didn't speak to him for three days afterward.
  • In Kare Kano, Yukino's classmates use it against her after she's revealed to not be The Ace. The ringleader is Maho, the local Alpha Bitch. Ironically, Maho is later at the receiving end too.
  • One of the many bullying tactics that Nanako and Mariko from Oniisama e... go through is this, including an iconic scene where the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse begin interrupting Nanako when she's reading in class and saying "there's a bug in here!"


  • In Cheech and Chong's "Pedro And Man At The Drive-Inn" sketch from Los Cochinos, near the end of the sketch where Man calls out to the people they tried to smuggle into the drive-in theatre and couldn't get out because Man broke the key off in the lock to see if they were okay, and he gets no response from them, Pedro says that they're probably giving them this because they couldn't get them out yet.

Comic Books

  • In Empowered, Emp has a tendency to do this to Thugboy when he pisses her off. Cue parody Imagine Spots of him fighting his way through blizzards...


  • The film Good Morning is about two brothers in 1950s Japan who refuse to talk to anyone but each other until their parents give in and buy a television set.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, when Mearing is first introduced to the Autobots, Optimus is in his truck form in a huff.
    Dino: He's in a bad mood. He's not talking to anybody today.
    Mearing: What is this, the silent treatment?
    Ironhide: We've seen that and this is not that.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor does this briefly when Loki shows up as an illusion in the gladiator dungeons to talk to him, until Loki exasperatedly tells him to say something.
  • In Summer Camp Nightmare, acting camp director Franklin Reilly, after the junior counselors took over Camp North Pines, had the campers and other junior counselors give this to Chris Wayne and Heather from Camp South Pines for not going along with the direction of the revolutionists and trying to stand up for the deposed camp director Mr. Warren, who was subsequently murdered.
  • Lampshaded in Kill Bill
    Ernie: White women call this the silent treatment... and we let 'em think we don't like it.


  • In the Harry Potter series, this is a favorite tactic of both Vernon Dursley and Severus Snape. Harry is quite relieved when Snape uses it against him, as it means that he doesn't have to suffer anything worse. Or at least so he thinks until Malfoy knocks over his potion sample and Snape is all too happy to just leave Malfoy off the hook.
    Snape: Whoops. Another zero, then, Potter.
  • In What a Trip, Amber Brown, Amber Brown subjects her best friend Justin Daniels to this after he splashes her in the pool and otherwise gets on her nerves, but he soon manages to get her to forgive him.
  • Described as a form of bullying in one of the stories of the anthology Dear Bully, in which a group of kids at a school subjected a different kid to the silent treatment each week, and each never thought it could never happen to them... until it did.
  • In Ben And Me, Amos refuses to talk to Ben at all after the kite-flying incident. Given how badly it affected him to stay on a kite in the middle of a thunderstorm, it's pretty understandable.
  • In the The Great Brain series the Fitzgerald family uses this as the ultimate punishment instead of a whipping. The boy who gets the silent treatment wishes he was whipped instead, it's so devastating.
  • In Thomas Costain's novel The Black Rose, Walter's grandfather has made an oath never to speak to him; he now regrets it, but he gave his word. Near the end of the novel, after Walter's successful adventures in the Orient, his grandfather accidentally addresses Walter directly three times, and decides he can consider the oath permanently broken.
  • In Pinocchio’s Sister, ventriloquist Mr. Rosedale has become completely wrapped up in his dummy Iris, to the point of neglecting his daughter, Martha. After Martha has an outburst at Iris in the park, her father does not speak to her for hours.
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, this is a standard Dwarven punishment to some of the more heinous crimes, and we get to see it happen to Vermund of Durgrimst Az Sweldn rak Anhuin as punishment for the attempted murder of Eragon. Put simply, the dwarves pretend the offending party isn't there at all. He can rant, rave, or in any other way attempt to scream at them, but they will simply act like he doesn't even exist, and quite literally, not even give him the time of day. And when Vermund physically grabs another dwarf, a couple of guards quite calmly wrench him off and toss him away, though the nonchalance of it is described as being no different than the guards helping straighten their protectorate's chain mail. But they don't do this just to Vermund but the entire clan as punishment for endorsing him, until they change leadership.note 
  • In Completely Clementine from Clémentine, Clementine gives her father this without even realizing it's a thing for not joining her in becoming a vegetarian. She tells her friend Margaret that she hasn't talked to him for one day, thirteen hours and twenty-one minutes.
    Margaret: Oh yeah. The silent treatment.
    Clementine: The silent treatment. It's a treatment?
    Margaret: Very effective. Hold out for a lot.
  • Exaggerated in Midnight’s Children: Salim's grandmother holds a grudge against his grandfather, that she never speaks to him again, for 30 years, until her death.

Live-Action TV

  • On Banshee Kai Proctor is a crime kingpin who comes from a traditional Amish family. Because of his criminal lifestyle, the entire Amish community is shunning him. When he tries to talk to his father, Proctor Sr. does not even acknowledge that Kai is there.
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Guitarist Amplification":
    Penny: What is he doing?
    Leonard: It's a little hard to explain. He's pretending to be in an alternate universe where he occupies the same physical space as us, but cannot perceive us.
    Sheldon: Oh, don't flatter yourself. I'm just ignoring you.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: In the episode "Tunnel Vision", the Sheriff's henchmen decide to express their hurt feelings by collectively ignoring him. The Sheriff has coincidentally just come into possession of an artifact claimed to make its owner invisible, and thus is led to believe that the artifact actually works.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): An invoked version occurs in "To See the Invisible Man". People convicted of the crime of "coldness" receive a mark on their forehead that warns everyone in society to treat them as though they weren't there, on penalty of receiving the same punishment if they don't.
  • In an episode of Full House, D.J. goes into silent disapproval when she catches Danny, Jesse and Joey spying on her while on a date. When D.J. obeys their pleas to talk with them and viciously rips into them for their actions, Jesse remarks that they were probably better off with the silent treatment.
  • One episode of Clarissa Explains It All had Ferguson doing this to Clarissa.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Lois gets angry at Francis for getting himself emancipated and dropping out of military school, and does this to him. She is so intent on ignoring Francis that when he deflated her tyres to get a word with her, she drives off on all flats.
    • Another episode has Dewey doing this to Reese as punishment for Reese bullying him. Dewey starts acknowledging Reese once they get drugged.
  • In one episode of Roseanne, Dan does this to Becky after finding out that she and Mark took his motorcycle out for a joy ride without telling him.
  • Inverted in an episode of Scrubs. Jordan gets angry at Dr. Cox, but instead of giving him the silent treatment (because she knows he would actually enjoy that), she chooses to talk to him non-stop.
  • In Carrusel, when the kids got sick of Maria Joaquina's bullshit, they invoked the trope on to her for several days — not even her Dogged Nice Guy Cirilo wanted to talk to her. It made her break down crying.


  • In the book of 2nd Samuel from The Bible, Absalom gives his half-brother Amnon this, saying nothing good or bad to him, after the rape of his biological sister Tamar, expressing his great displeasure over the act and signaling that things are about to go bad for Amnon, as soon afterward Absalom has his servants kill Amnon in a Nasty Party that gets him exiled from Israel.

Video Games

  • Elika gives the Prince the silent treatment for most of the "Epilogue" add-on to Prince of Persia (2008), after he releases Ahriman all over again by bringing her back to life.
  • In the 25th Anniversary Edition of Night Trap, if you fail to save Danny in a Deleted Scene, Lt. Simms briefly appears on the top-right corner of the CRT's screen and gives you the silent treatment as punishment by refusing to speak to you (he just has no words to describe your failure in causing the Death of a Child) before pulling a quick SCAT System Disconnect on you, resulting in a Game Over. (Probably Justified, as the filmmakers probably didn't film any scene where he chides you for failing to save Danny.)

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The Angry Beavers: In "Utter Nonsense", Norbert and Dagget end up giving each other the silent treatment after "jinxing" each other, with each trying to get the other to talk and break the jinx so the other has an excuse to slap him.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "Muted Muriel", Muriel gives her husband Eustace the silent treatment until he apologizes. Because he's such a stubborn Jerk Ass he refuses, and it goes on long enough that Courage goes to extremes trying to get Muriel to talk again, eventually leading to get Shirley the Medium to summon an Eldritch Abomination that can only be banished by the sound of Muriel's voice.
  • PB&J Otter has an episode called "The Silent Treatment" in which Pinch Raccoon and Jelly Otter give it to each other after Pinch gives Jelly a makeover that she didn't want.
  • South Park: In "The Death of Eric Cartman", the kids are finally fed up with Cartman and decide to give him the silent treatment. As a result, he thinks he's dead and a ghost. Butters, who is unaware of the pact, talks to Cartman and Cartman convinces Butters that he can see dead people.
  • During the Sardonyx arc of Steven Universe, Garnet gives this to Pearl (well, at least up until the ending of "Keystone Motel").
    • A similar scenario happens with Steven and Connie for a few weeks during season 5's post-Homeworld arc, and it's bad enough that it takes a party hosted by their shared nemesis Kevin to get them to make up.
  • In Rick and Morty, a female Gazorpian is sentenced by a judge to the silent treatment due to the crime of having "bad bangs", which, in their society, is treated as a harsh and brutal punishment.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In Episode 105, Kaeloo gives this to Mr. Cat, covering her "ears" and yelling that she can't hear him when he tries to speak to her, until she finds out that he isn't the bad guy of the episode.
    • In Episode 108, Kaeloo tries to give Mr. Cat the silent treatment. This time, it doesn't work because she doesn't actually want to stop talking to her best friend, and mere seconds after declaring that she will never speak to him again, she starts crying and then continues talking to him as if nothing happened.
  • The Simpsons: In "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy", Homer gives his father the silent treatment when he calls him an accident.
    Marge: Homie, are you really going to ignore Grampa for the rest of your life?
    Homer: Of course not, Marge. Just for the rest of his life.

Real Life

  • Unfortunately done by certain cults (referred to as "shunning" or "disfellowshipping") when members end up leaving the group.


Example of: