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Silent Treatment

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"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 variation nevertheless is that the person being subjected to the silent treatment is relieved that they no longer have to hear the other person speak.


Could lead to Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him. Not to be confused with The Quiet Game. If it's an Edutainment Show on something like PBS, expect an aesop about how hiding your feelings never solves anything and you need to use your words to address and solve the problem. In some situations, the silent treatment can be depicted as a cowardly option; as you are not addressing the problem or actually establishing boundaries with someone, you are actually relying on them to be fully aware of their own actions. Compare I Can't Hear You.



Anime and Manga

  • One of the many bullying tactics that Nanako and Mariko from Dear Brother 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 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.
  • Played for Laughs in Kakegurui at one point with Yumeko and Midari. After Midari ruins their second gamble together, Yumeko refuses to even acknowledge her existence and ominously asks people why they're talking to themselves when they interact with her.
  • In His and Her Circumstances, 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.

Asian Animation

  • Motu Patlu: In "Motu Ke Sawaal", Patlu and his friends decide to remain quiet so that they don't have to listen to Motu constantly asking them questions. It doesn't work, since Motu notices they're not speaking and keeps asking why.


  • 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

  • The Watcher used this to great effect against The Stranger in Beyond, just appearing and standing in silence and letting him draw his own conclusion about why he's there. Since he never showed up before, Stranger thinks he's there to watch him be defeated and flees.
  • 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...

Fan Works

  • Us and Them: In the story "Road Trip", after Aeris realizes Sephiroth used Materia to put their children to sleep, she looks out the window and begins ignoring him for the rest of the drive.
  • Subverted in The Loud House fanfiction What You Wish For. Lori believes Lincoln isn't responding to her because he's mad at her for swearing at him, but really it's because he isn't there.


  • In the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, Rowley gives Greg the silent treatment when he's mad at him for breaking his hand. (Greg broke Rowley's hand by accident, but Rowley was mad at Greg for not apologising). Greg tries to start a conversation several times, but Rowley doesn't budge.
  • 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.
  • Lampshaded in Kill Bill:
    Ernie: White women call this the silent treatment... and we let 'em think we don't like it.
  • In Mario (1984), Simon spends a few days ignoring Mario after Mario rips down his pictures of Hélène.
  • 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.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor does this briefly when Loki visits him in the gladiator dungeons via an illusion to talk until Loki exasperatedly tells him to say something. The reason for this is that Thor is angry at Loki for having faked his death four years ago and blames him for their father's death.
  • Discussed and subverted 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. Prime MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF, (thumps the hood of Prime's cab), he's pissed.


  • Achoo!: The cats threaten to stop speaking to the other animals for breaking their tug-of-war rope.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 the Dino Life Guides book "How to Be a Friend", one boy is seen shouting at another, "I'll never speak to you again! Ever, ever, ever!". They make up, but we don't know what he was angry about.
  • In A Feast for Crows, Doran Martell orders the servants bringing food, water and clean clothing to his imprisoned daughter not to speak to her in order to break her psychologically; eventually this works.
  • 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 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 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 
  • 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.
  • In The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, after Nicholas Benedict outwits the plans of the Gang of Bullies known as the Spiders to initiate him by giving him a Swirlie, they give him the silent treatment and force all of the other children at the Orphanage of Fear to do so too. After John Cole becomes his friend and defies their ban on talking to him, the silent treatment is extended to him as well.
  • 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.

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": Sheldon doesn't speak to his roommate Leonard.
    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.
  • 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.
  • CSI: NY: When Mac develops speech aphasianote  while recovering from being shot in the back and flatlining during surgery, Christine gets miffed with him for not letting her know what's wrong. She confronts him in his office, a co-worker interrupts them, and he dismisses her. She ignores him for the rest of the episode, and refuses to answer or return his calls for the entire next one and part of the one after that. He finally visits her at her restaurant, gives in and tells her about his condition. She says she's got to decide if she can live with his pride so he leaves. The next day she shows back up at his office, having forgiven him.
  • Emma (2009): Mrs Bates stops talking to her daughter Miss Bates after the former has decided to send Mrs Bates' beloved orphaned granddaughter Jane from their impoverished home to Colonel Campbell who can provide for Jane's education. Mrs Bates apparently hasn't talked to anyone ever since. She doesn't break her silence, not even when Jane is visiting. She starts talking after years when Jane is grown up and engaged.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 tires to get a word with her, she drives off on all flats.
    • Dewey stops talking 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.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "To See the Invisible Man", Mitchell Chaplin is convicted of the crime of coldness towards others and is sentenced to a year of invisibility. He is forced to wear an implant on his forehead that alerts people that they are to ignore him and pretend not to see him no matter what. If they engage with him in any way, they are violating Citizen's Law 24824 which carries the penalty of at least one year of invisibility. Invisible people who speak to each other have another year added to their sentences.
  • Young Sheldon: "A Loaf of Bread and a Grand Old Flag", Sheldon's family does this to Sheldon because they were still mad at him when he announces that he gave the bread another chance and he likes it and trying to make himself sound mature.

Puppet Shows

  • In "I'm Sorry, Really Sorry" from The Pajanimals, Sweetpea Sue and Cowbella decide to give each other the silent treatment; Sweetpea Sue because Cowbella got paint on her daisy puff toy, and Cowbella because Sweetpea Sue won't accept her apology or forgive her.


  • 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

  • With the Generations expansion pack installed, teenage sims in The Sims 3 can snub each other, either by player command or automatically, which causes a negative moodlet for the snubbed teen.
  • During the first inFAMOUS game, Cole gives the silent treatment to Zeke. While Cole is dealing with a city-wide epidemic, Zeke calls Cole to apologize for trying to use the Ray Sphere to gain superpowers, even though doing that would have killed thousands of people. While it didn't work, Zeke pulled a Face–Heel Turn by siding with Kessler in an attempt to gain superpowers. On top of that, thanks in part to Zeke's decision, Trish ends up dead due to one of Kessler's traps. Even though Cole picks up the phone, he doesn't say a single word during the entire call.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
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.
  • Arthur:
    • Discussed in "Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight" when Mr. and Mrs. Read argue over literal spilt milk, then Mr. Read leaves to buy some more milk, but Arthur and D.W. mistake it as him leaving for the sake of leaving. This gives them the impression that the argument was worse than it really was and they have many daydreams, including the parents not speaking to each other and sending the kids to wish each other merry Christmas.
    • In "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh", Arthur compares Sue Ellen to a sheepdog because of her sweater, but this offends her. He tries to apologise, but gets overly defensive, accusing her of overreacting. This causes Arthur's friends to be mad at him, accusing the apology of not being "real", and they refuse to speak to him.
    • Discussed in "Draw" when Francine's friends tell her not to make fun of Fern, and Francine replies, "Fern? That mouse? What's she gonna do, be quiet at me?".
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "Muted Muriel", Muriel gives her husband Eustace the silent treatment until he apologizes. Because he's such a stubborn Jerkass 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.
  • 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.
    • In Episode 131, Kaeloo beats Mr. Cat up, and he spends the rest of the episode refusing to talk to her or even look at her because he's still mad at her.
  • In the 2005 film of The Magic Roundabout, Dougal gets one from the rest of the gang when they are setting up camp for a night, because of Dougal accidentally releasing Zeebad at the beginning of the film.
    Dougal: I must say, you're all doing a wonderful job. Keep up the good work! What's for dinner, anyway? I'm famished. (Brian and Dylan look at him for a second, then they turn away from him and continue to set up the tents) Oh, I see. The silent treatment, is it?
  • 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.
  • In an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are mad at each other for reasons unexplained, and the former refuses to speak to the latter. In fact, "Tell that puppy..." became the Episode Tagline courtesy of Shaggy's refusal to talk to Scooby.
  • 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.
  • In the Rugrats episode "The Baby Vanishes", the adults ignore Angelica to try to punish her for being a Spoiled Brat. This causes Angelica to think that the vanishing cream she rubbed on herself to turn invisible worked.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Mirror Gem": This is implied to be the reason why the titular Magic Mirror initially appears to be broken when Pearl asks it to show the Galaxy Warp, as the Gem powering it was tired of answering questions. It eventually warms up to Steven, though.
    • During the Sardonyx arc, 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. Connie's silent treatment towards Steven was actually unintentional as she tells Steven that she wasn't actually trying to ignore him and after struggling with trying to figure out how to answer him thought it would be better if they talked about things in person. But by the time she rode Lion to Steven's house, she found that he was on vacation. For unknown reasons that are never touched on in the episode, she didn't attempt to try to visit him again or give him any indication that she was ready to talk afterwards, which made their reconciliation much more awkward when it happened. It's speculated that that she always intended to try again, but real-life events (school, family matters, etc) as well as her fears of what Steven would think of her for shutting him out for so long (especially after she got an Expository Hairstyle Change in the interim, which in normal circumstances would signify that the subject of such has moved on after a breakup, which is what Steven thought of her upon first seeing her at the party) got in the way. In any case, Connie apparently didn't have another chance to see Steven until learning about Kevin's party and deciding to attend in the hope of finally reuniting and talking things out with him. Steven apologizes to Connie for breaking their promise to always be a team, and they both make up. Lion also gives Steven the Silent Treatment since he was also angry at him for brushing off Connie's and everyone else's feelings on his surrender to Homeworld to avoid facing his own, and decides to stay with Connie for a few weeks (over five episodes) to teach him a hard lesson and give her comfort and companionship during that time, until Steven and Connie's reconciliation in "Kevin Party".

Real Life

  • Unfortunately done by certain cults (referred to as "shunning" or "disfellowshipping") when members end up leaving the group.
  • Sometimes done in an attempt to train dogs not to do things. The theory is that if you actively discipline a dog for doing something, they might like it because it's "attention", but if you not talk to them, they'll perceive that as a punishment.


Video Example(s):


Steven Universe

Garnet is still mad at Pearl.

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Main / SilentTreatment