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Sound-Only Death

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Jessica: I didn't see it. I heard them. Hordes of them.
Hendrickson: What 'hordes'?
Jessica: Children. Davids. I heard them streaming into the bunker above us. I heard the soldiers screaming, and then it got very, very quiet. Nothing, except the smell of death.

The killer goes through a door, which closes behind them. Then we hear screams and gunshots. Used with those Driven to Suicide as well.

A subtrope of Gory Discretion Shot or Battle Discretion Shot. See also Scream Discretion Shot and Shadow Discretion Shot. Goes together well with the lethal variant of Mugged for Disguise. Sometimes an example of Nothing Is Scarier or Darkness Equals Death, where the scene is more disturbing because we can't see it. Related to Offscreen Crash and Death by Transceiver.

If the death is a Sound-Only Death from the point of view of in-canon third parties as well as the viewer, this may be a set up for a twist in which the whole thing was a fake and the apparent death noises were simulated.

Older Than Feudalism: In ancient Greek theatre, all deaths took place behind the backdrop and the audience was left to interpret from the sounds made what had happened.

Opposite Trope of See No Evil, Hear No Evil (off-screen events won't be audible until they appear on-screen).

As a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers. You have been warned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Occurs fairly often in Attack on Titan, specifically during the Battle of Trost. In the anime, you don't see anyone get Eaten Alive, but you sure hear it.
  • Black Lagoon: Yukio's suicide in the anime, when she stabs herself in the throat with a katana. We only see Rock staring in horror (as Revy screams at him not to) and the sound of Yukio choking to death on her own blood. The manga, meanwhile, gives us a completely unobstructed view as she gives him one last smile and falls over dead.
  • The Count's death in The Castle of Cagliostro, when he's crushed by the clock tower's hands. You hear him in pain, and then a gurgle accompanied by a nasty-sounding crunch as the hands move to the 12:00 position.
  • Elfen Lied: The lone survivor of a squad of guards who had been trying to kill a completely naked Lucy is trapped unarmed and alone in a room with her. She crouches down in front of him as he cowers in a corner, shitting his pants in fear...
  • In Fate/Zero's anime adaptation, we don't see the actual death of the boy that Caster kills after giving him a cruel Hope Spot, just Caster's shadow tentacles reach out and grab him before it cuts away, but what we do hear makes it clear how horrific a death it was.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Though we do see him bleed out, the actual shot that killed Maes Hughes is just a sound effect over a black screen.
    • Solf Kimblee's death is also a sound effect over a black screen, only this time with the sound of jaws snapping shut on him.
  • Karyuudo Tsukishima's death in The Future Diary is heard from a walkie-talkie as Officer Kurusu shoots him point-blank.
  • Kaji's death in Neon Genesis Evangelion. He is standing alone somewhere and turns to say to an unknown individual, "Yo! You're a little late, aren't you?" This is followed by a gunshot over a black screen. Subverted in the movie Death and Rebirth, where the gunshot is replaced by the sound of Asuka slapping Shinji out of disbelief and yelling at him when he tells her that Kaji is gone.note 
  • Noir:
    • The Intocabile murders the family of a Mafia boss this way, after he commits treason. This was done to get around the heavy restrictions placed on gore by the network (which is why the series uses Bloodless Carnage) and it works.
    • Debatably, also the ending of the series. But most fans don't sign to this theory, as the gun-sounds, in the end, belong to the protagonists' guns, which at this point were destroyed.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) has one in the milestone issue #225; Sonic and Sally infiltrate the newly-built Death Egg Mark II, where they are then immediately confronted by Silver Sonic Mark II. Sonic decides to fight. However, Sally runs down a corridor to trace Eggman's intercom signal, where she encounters a giant gun turret that pops out of the wall. Sonic, while still fighting Silver Sonic, hears 3 sickening loud blasts (Possibly made worse by the art detailing in the onomatopoeia of the blasts.) from outside the corridor. The only thing we see afterwards of Sally is her shattered goggles and a silhouette on the floor of her lifeless hand, as Mobius reboots itself. Due to said reboot, Sonic manages to save her from dying...but then she gets roboticized.
  • Done in Watchmen when Rorschach goes into the prison restroom and kills Big Figure.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi:
    • We don't actually see Bambi's mother getting killed by the hunter. We just hear a gunshot after Bambi runs away, and later his father tells him that his mother "can't be with him anymore". Interestingly, the hunter himself is never shown in the film either.
    • Subverted with a panicking pheasant when the hunter returns; when she flies off in fear, the camera cuts to her two friends as the gunshot is heard, then we actually see the peasant's body fall to the ground.
  • The Fox and the Hound: After leaving her kit behind, Tod's mother runs out into a field, disappears into the grass, and then... A gunshot is heard. We then cut to Big Mama doing a horrified double take, before it cuts to a flock of ground birds who scatter at the second gunshot.
  • Ice Age:
    • Ice Age: At the climax, Manny knocks the evil saber Soto to a rock wall, the impact knocking loose sharp icicles. We see Soto's final moments as he looks up in horror at the icicles coming loose and falling toward him, then we cut to his hench-cats cringing as a sickening stabbing sound is heard.
    • In Ice Age: The Meltdown, Fast Tony's glyptodon lackey Stu is swimming underwater, using a reed as a snorkel, when one of the two defrosted predators pulls him down to his doom. We see the reed disappear and hear a pained/frightened scream, then silence for a few moments ... until his completely empty shell resurfaces. It's a surprisingly dark moment for an otherwise Lighter and Softer sequel.
  • Lucky Luke: Ballad of the Daltons: At the beginning at the saloon, one customer complains about there being no female dancers on the stage, just Bill who's about to sing the eponymous "Ballad of the Daltons" and play his banjo. That complaining quickly gets cut short by a gunshot and the ensuing sound of that customer falling on the ground.
  • Oliver & Company: Unlike Roscoe, DeSoto isn't actually seen being electrocuted. He falls off the car and we hear him yelping and being electrocuted.
  • Tarzan: We never see Kala and Kerchak's son get killed by Sabor. All we hear is the sound of the leopard's attack.
  • Chicken Run: Edwina being slain for food once she stops laying eggs. We see Mrs. Tweedy (in silhouette) priming and then raising her axe, but then cut away to the other chickens; the muted "thunk" of the blade's chop says it all.
  • Ironhide's death in The Transformers: The Movie; we see Megatron standing over him, fusion cannon pointing at his head and about to discharge, and then the scene cuts to an external shot of the hijacked shuttle as we hear the iconic sound of that cannon over the ending notes of "Instruments of Destruction".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The hibernating astronauts who are murdered by evil computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Our only indication that they are dying comes from their life sign monitors, which flatline in a chorus of alarming beeps.
  • Alien:
    • Lambert's death in the first Alien movie as she gets violated by the Alien, heard over the wirecam by Ripley.
    • Also Wierzbowski's death in Aliens: as Hicks frantically calls for him, we only hear him scream before his vital signs flatline.
    • Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts. In "Ore", the Company synthetic turns off the tunnel lights to stop the miners killing a xenomorph. We hear one of the miner's shout, "I got it!" then a scream and a shot of their acid-scorched pickaxe dropping to the ground.
  • The Art of War (2000). Shaw's partner dies this way, shot over the radio as Shaw attempts to run down an assassin. He's The Mole Faking the Dead, and in fact, turns out to be the assassin Shaw was chasing.
  • Played for laughs in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when Dr. Evil drops Mustafa into a pit of fire, only for Mustafa to complain off-screen that he's "alive, but very badly burned". This goes on for some time until we hear someone shoot him; he then complains about being shot before finally being shot again, presumably finishing him off.
  • The Big Red One. The German protagonist is Booby Trapping a castle belonging to a countess, who reveals that she despises Hitler and offers him a sizeable bribe not to detonate the explosives. Cut to the outside of the castle and the sound of a submachine gun.
  • The Black Hole. The visual aspect of Durant's murder by Maximillian is hidden by the book. We only see Durant screaming in agony.
  • In The Blair Witch Project, this is what happens to Heather because the footage is from her camera, and most likely Mike and Josh, too.
  • The Bodyguard opens on the sound of gunshots as Frank Farmer shoots dead a hitman sent after his client.
  • After the frame freezes on the titular heroes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as they run out of their hiding place, guns blazing away from either hand as they confront legions of Bolivian soldiers, the sound continues, with the cavalry's voluminous gunfire quickly fading away into the end credits.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: After John Daggett fails to gain control of Wayne Enterprises, he confronts Bane. After a heated exchange, Bane swiftly turns the tables on Daggett, scaring his assistant away. Just as Bane begins to do... something to Daggett's face, the screen cuts away to the assistant, who is still close enough to hear Daggett's agonized screams. Also, Foley's death.
  • Played for comedy in Dirty Work, in the fish scene.
    Now you've taken my chainsaw, and you're using it on me!
  • In the film adaptation of Double Indemnity the protagonist Walter is shown popping up out of the backseat of a car, the shot changes to the wife of the victim driving while the victim's neck is audibly broken. In the novel, Walter sits up in the backseat of the car and grabs his victim by the neck, the author then (through the main character's voice) states "I won't tell you what I did then. But in two seconds he was curled down on the seat with a broken neck..."
  • The suicides of Hitler and Eva Braun, Mr. & Mrs. Goebbels and other Nazi bigwigs in Downfall. Averted with various 'minor' characters.
  • The Fallout: We only here sounds from the shooting — gunshots, people screaming, and eventually the police arriving to apprehend the shooter. The camera's focus is on the reactions of Vada, Mia, and Quinton in the bathroom.
  • When Georgie is killed in Funny Games, it happens in the next room, and we only hear the sound of the shotgun going off and see a blood-spattered television immediately afterward.
  • Grizzly Man: During the fatal attack, the camera was turned on with the cap still over the lens and the footage only contained the audio. Herzog heard the footage for a while before asking the owner to turn it off, calmly and unnervingly telling her to never listen to its contents, and destroy it as soon as possible. The owner has chosen the keep the tapes and refuses to submit it to the public eye.
  • Hanna does this a lot- Erik Heller and Marissa Weigler are killed this way.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • Jurassic Park (1993): The goat eaten by the T-rex, the hacker eaten by the Dilophosaurus and, most notably, anything eaten by the Velociraptors, and for good reason- they are all eaten alive.
    • In the sequel, anyone attacked or eaten by Compys tends to receive this treatment as well.
    • In Jurassic World, the I-Rex's attack on the park's security team in the jungle has several deaths like this; at least half the team's demise is shown only by their profile at home base when their heart rate instantly flat-lines.
  • The massacre at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.
  • Klute is forced to listen to the murder of a friend that the killer recorded.
  • The Last Days on Mars (2013). The protagonist can hear the radio chatter of the relief team, but his own radio isn't working properly so he can't warn them about the infected crewmen. Instead, he hears their screams over the radio, their deaths obscured by the dust kicked up by the Drop Ship as it landed.
  • Licence to Kill: When Lupa's lover has his heart cut out by Sanchez's men, we only hear his scream and briefly see his dead body later on.
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, When Winston accompanies Rory Breaker to identify the thugs who robbed Rory's marijuana-growing operation. Once Winston has identified the primary culprit, as he hurries away with an armful of loot he hears gunfire.
  • The Matrix Reloaded. At the end of the fight between Neo and the Merovingian's mooks, the last mook is lying on the ground and looking up as Neo swings a polearm with a spiked end down at his head. The scene cuts to the Merovingian looking away in disgust as a "thunk" sound effect is heard.
  • Men In Black 2. The scene where Serleena eats a would-be mugger is done like this. It happens behind a bush so all we see are his legs fly up in the air and get sucked down accompanied by his screams of terror and some devouring noises as she eats him alive.
  • Miller's Crossing. A slow pan across the room accompanied by "Danny Boy" playing on the gramophone, and the sound of a man gasping and his body hitting the floor, eventually reveals a dead guard in Leo's foyer, and the murderer letting in his accomplice so they can finish off their main target.
  • Done in the film adaptation of Old Yeller when Travis ends up having to Shoot the Dog: he aims his rifle as the music crescendos, and once he fires both it and Yeller's growls come to an abrupt stop.
  • Done chillingly in Paranormal Activity. Katie, appearing possessed, wanders downstairs out of view, and begins screaming bloody murder. Her boyfriend runs down after her, you hear him shout, and then they're both suddenly cut off. After many agonizing seconds of silence, his body is tossed at the camera, and it's revealed that Katie had just murdered him.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: The grieving old man walks off screen, his shadow freeze-frames and we hear a screech of brakes and a yell. "Confused by his great loss, the old man left that home... never to return!" Only a funny example because of narm. At B-Fest, someone will occasionally roll a single tire in front of the screen at this point.
  • Predator: As the fleeing party is being pursued by the title creature, one of them, Billy, decides to perform a You Shall Not Pass! to let the others escape. As they continue along they hear his scream as the Predator kills him.
  • Ring of Fear: The characters (and the audience) can only hear the growls of the tiger and the screams of O'Malley as he is mauled to death inside the locked boxcar.
  • Occurs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. After Frank N Furter chases Eddie into the freezer, we see Columbia's horrified face as we hear Eddie's screams and Frank chopping him to pieces with a pick-axe.
  • Serenity (2005): When the unnamed female scientist on the video is attacked by a Reaver, it drags her down out of sight and we hear her screams as it rapes/kills/eats her.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Moriarty tells Irene Adler he has no further need of her services. She gets up and leaves, staggering slightly as she does. Cut back to Moriarty calmly sipping his tea while a crash of crockery (a later flashback scene shows she knocked over a table as she fell) signifies Irene collapsing from the poisoned tea she just drank.
  • In Six: The Mark Unleashed, the massacre of the underground hideout rebels is done with only the sound of a gunshot between scenes.
  • Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, a German film about the 1943 trial and execution by guillotine of three antifascist student protestors. The screen fades to black just as the blade is released to sever Sophie's head, and we hear it rise and fall twice more, along with Hans Scholl's cry of "Es lebe die Freiheit!" (Long live freedom).
  • Star Trek: First Contact has a Red Shirt suffer a Sound-Only Assimilation when the Borg invade the Enterprise.
  • Star Wars: A variation in A New Hope. In the Death Star, two stormtroopers are lured inside the Millennium Falcon, then we hear blaster fire. We never see any bodies afterward, but Han and Luke walk out in their uniforms.
  • In Sucker Punch, there's a scene where Blue talks to all of the girls about their escape plan, which Blondie told him about. When he shoots Amber and Blondie, there's just the sounds of the gunshot and their corpses hitting the floor.
  • In Targets during the massacre at the drive-in, we at one point cut to one of the cars showing a child in the front passenger seat crying hysterically. The camera pans away to the driver seat where we see a dead adult. A shot is heard and the crying stops.
  • Blackly funny example in Theatre of Blood— a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow vengeful killer actor Edward Lionheart ends up with it parked on train tracks. We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
    "I can hear a train whistle... (rumbling sound) I can definitely identify it as a train... (sound grows louder) T-R-A... KERRRR-UNNCH.
  • There are several situations in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre where the death of a character is visually censored this way. Curtin is executed off-screen while we hear two shots being fired, the three banditos are being executed against a wall which we see from an angle that doesn't show them being gunned down. Dobbs' beheading is covered by a donkey standing in the way.
  • Ultraviolet (2006) has a scene start with a closed door, gunshots, sword sounds, screams, mayhem...and then Violet comes through the door alone.
  • The murder scene in The War of the Worlds remake, where Tom Cruise's character goes into a nearby room to deal with the Crazy Survivalist whose actions threaten to give away their position to the invading aliens. The door closes, and... Dakota Fanning sings with her eyes closed so she won't hear the murder sounds.

  • The Day of the Triffids. While hiding in an apartment building, the protagonist hears a young couple commit suicide by jumping out a window.
  • The Guns of Navarone. Mallory tells the others how Andrea Stavros killed a roomful of Germans — entering disguised as a collaborator, breaking the lightbulb, then after the shots and screams had died he comes out the door covered in blood.
  • A curious example occurs in Heart of Steel, whereby Alistair silences rival cyborg Jim and closes his eyes before sending his combat drones to dismember him, so that Jim cannot access the speakers or move on his own, but both of them are connected to the island's computer network so that Alistair gets the full brunt of Jim's frantic last thoughts.
  • In A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, the titular sound is used to refer to three things: 1) The roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, 2) The guns that kill said Tyrannosaurus, and 3) The sound that the gun makes when aimed at the protagonist who destroyed the present by tampering with the distant past.
  • In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the story is told from Bella's first-person POV, so all the action is usually described through her own eyes. But when Bree is executed by the Voluturi, Bella closes her eyes, so can only describe the sounds of a vampire being dismembered.
  • In the Warrior Cats book River, Frostpaw sees her mother Curlfeather disappear beneath a group of dogs. She closes her eyes tight, but cannot shut out her mother's dying screams.
  • In Donald E. Westlake's The Spy in the Ointment Eugene closes his eyes when Lionel J. Stonewright is about to be killed by Lobo. The ensuing sounds, according to Eugene, are "thok", "bakumple" and "chup-chup-chup".
  • A very literal example of this trope can be found in the Discworld novel Reaper Man, where the Death of Trees, which is one of the minor Deaths that pop up after The Grim Reaper is forcibly retired by the Auditors of Reality, is described as the bodiless sound of an axe chopping into wood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel. Holtz taking out an entire Wolfram & Hart spec ops team in "Quickening" (presumably to obfuscate the Fridge Logic of a single Badass Normal with a sword killing a dozen men with automatic weapons who have him surrounded). The cameras choose that moment to go on the fritz, but everyone at Wolfram & Hart smirks at the sound of fighting, gunshots and then a loud scream. Then someone picks up the radio and calls the Spec Ops team. No-one answers.
  • In the Soap Opera Another World, as two cars speed toward each other on an ice-slicked road, the final frame of the episode is a frozen shot of one set of headlights. It fades to black as we hear the gruesome sound of a car crash.
  • The murder of the entire Quorum in Battlestar Galactica's fourth season. We see the bodies afterwards though, and the massacre itself is a deleted scene on the DVD.
  • Blake's 7. Cally's death in "Rescue" is only shown by Stuff Blowing Up and her crying out Blake's name. This was because Jan Chappell had decided to leave the series; she rejected the idea of a final episode portraying her death and only agreed to voice record her last words.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • Season 3 has a case of this. Eli, who has spotted Gyp Rosetti organizing a posse to ambush Nucky's liquor convoy at the Tabor Heights gas station, tries to flag down the trucks to warn them, but they ignore him and drive to their doom. As Eli is trying to start his car, he and the audience hear the gunfire of Gyp's men opening fire on the convoy, killing the dozen or so drivers and guards of the trucks.
    • Season 5 does this with Joe Masseria's assassination. Lucky Luciano gets up from the table and excuses himself to the bathroom. As he closes the door, his hitmen Tonino Sandrelli and Bugsy Siegel enter the restaurant. Inside the bathroom, Luciano listens as the two assassins empty their guns into Masseria, emerging once the gunfire ceases.
      Lucky Luciano: Fuck took so long?
      Bugsy Siegel: Traffic the whole way.
      Tonino Sandrelli: Had to be done, right?
  • We can hear a gunshot after the shot fades to black when Jesse shoots Gale in Breaking Bad.
  • This happens only occasionally on Cold Case, including one particularly sad case where a teenaged girl is held down by a group of biker thugs and viciously stabbed. The sounds of her screams as well as the condition of her body (in which part of the blade was imbedded inside of her) shows how much she suffered.
  • Part of what makes Haley's death in the 100th episode of Criminal Minds so horrific is that her ex-husband, Hotch, is listening to the Reaper torture her over the phone. They get a few minutes to say goodbye, and then all Hotch can hear is Foyet's gun going off.
  • The final scene of the revived Dallas episode "The Furious and Fast" is J.R. calling John Ross and telling him he's proud of him. The last shot we see of J.R. is him slowly lowering his cell phone as he sees someone offscreen. Cut to John Ross hearing gunshots over his own cell phone and crying out for his father. Someone has once again shot J.R., and this time, he's Killed Off for Real.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Reign of Terror", D'Argenson is shot off-screen after he tried to run and the mob of soldiers surrounded him.
    • "The Dalek Invasion of Earth": A hiding David and Susan at one point hear a man begging a Dalek for his life before he's promptly exterminated.
    • Occurs in the Third Doctor story "Spearhead from Space", where an elderly couple's dog is apparently killed by an Auton, or at least spooked off. The animal is heard barking offscreen, as its mistress berates it to be quiet; this is followed by a yelp, then silence.
    • "Image of the Fendahl": Four hands Stael a pistol, and heads to the stairs. When he reaches the top, we hear a single gunshot. The Doctor looks back, the scene changes, and the next time Stael is mentioned it's a reference to his suicide.
    • "The Ribos Operation": When the Doctor tricks the Graff Vynda-K into blowing himself up with his own bomb, the result is portrayed by the Graff deliriously wandering down a hallway while having a war flashback before the bomb explodes offscreen, accompanied by a burst of smoke and the Graff screaming in pain.
    • "The Pirate Planet": One scene has the Captain's robot "parrot" swoop over and kill one of the bridge crew. Its use in this case has the double function of saving on the already strained special effects budget and adding four seconds of tension over whether the dead man is Mr Fibuli or someone else.
    • "Rose": When Conspiracy Theorist Clive Finch is killed by an Auton, we only hear the sound of the gun firing and see his wife screaming.
    • Played Black Comedy in "The Sound of Drums". The Master needs a pesky reporter taken care of; several Toclafane materializes in the room. The Master then hurriedly leaves with his wife, and until he closes the sound-proof door, we hear screams and the sounds of horrible sharp instruments. Then, after a little while, the Master opens the door again, and screams can still be heard from inside. He closes it again, waits a bit longer ... opens the door, and the victim is still screaming.
    • "Forest of the Dead": If River Song screams as the energy from the Library's central computer runs through her, it can't be heard over the sound of the electricity itself. It also doubles as a Gory Discretion Shot, as she's obscured by blinding light and later the camera never pulls away from the Doctor as he stares, devastated, at her body.
    • Harriet Jones's extermination in "The Stolen Earth".
    • Adelaide Brooke's suicide in "The Waters of Mars".
    • In "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone", the Weeping Angels move so quickly that this is the only way they can snap the Red Shirts' necks.
    • More Black Comedy in "The Crimson Horror". When the Big Bad suffers a Disney Villain Death by falling off a rocket launching structure, the Doctor and his companions are shown wincing at the sound of her body bouncing off various metal beams before she hits the ground.
  • Done in The Dresden Files, where a group of vampire hunters is killed loudly and violently off-screen, while Dresden himself is locked in a room.
  • The Equalizer normally shows the villains getting shot by the protagonist, but the end of "Nightscape" is an exception. Robert McCall has tracked down three rapists just as they're chasing their next victim. They're not impressed by some middle-aged English guy trying to stop them, and pull knives. Cue the victim pausing for a moment on the subway stairwell as she hears three loud gunshots. It's made clear afterwards that McCall has killed them, as he pours out his angst to his Girl of the Week afterwards.
  • Fargo. Lorne Malvo walks into a building and wipes out the entire Fargo Mob. The battle is shown only by the camera panning across (then up) the buildings' opaque windows to the sound of gunfire, screams, and curses until it reaches the top floor of the building where upon someone undergoes Destination Defenestration. Despite all this noise, it's only then that the FBI agents on surveillance across the street realise something is wrong.
  • Xhalax's apparent death in Farscape, when Crais, claiming that he doesn't want to kill her in front of her daughter, takes her away into the swamp, after which a gunshot is heard. A few episodes later it's revealed that he spared her (which John, at least, had already suspected), but she's killed off unambiguously via Rasputinian Death (shot in the chest, then jumps from a starscraper) at the end of the same episode.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in the Frasier episode "Are You Being Served?" when Niles, in full swing of a nervous breakdown during a messy divorce, locks himself in the bathroom and a loud BANG is heard, followed by silence. The other characters all look at each other horrified. Then Niles stumbles out, covered in foam. Martin's Hot n' Foamy had just exploded.
  • Frontline. In "The Siege" anchorman Mike Moore (no, not that one) interviews a hostage taker while the eponymous siege is in progress, earning high ratings for his program. Two weeks later another hostage taker rings up Moore asking for a direct interview. Moore answers the phone on live television.
    Moore: You asked to speak to me. Well, you've got the whole of Australia watching and listening. What do you want?
    Hostage Taker: I want you to hear this. (screams and gunshots. Cut to credits).
  • In Game of Thrones, we see Shireen Baratheon get tied to a stake, but only hear the sounds of her burning to death and screaming as the camera lingers on her mother's face.
  • The Haunting Hour features these in abundance. One of the creepiest ones would be from "My Old House." A girl who doesn't want to leave her old home runs away from her family to be with it again. However, she soon realizes that her family is more important when she sees them worry over her disappearance. When she tries to return to them the House has a Villainous Breakdown and prevents her from leaving. While the scared girl cowers in a corner, the house brings out Combat Tentacles and goes in for the kill. The last time we see her alive she screams before we get a discretion shot.
  • Highlander: The Series never shows any decapitations, instead opting for a shot of a person swinging a sword and perhaps a *thunk* as a head hits the floor.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: The villain of "Sniper" committing suicide is kept offscreen and is only heard from behind a closed door. However, his bloody corpse is shown on full display afterwards.
  • In the second season of Jericho (2006), one episode has Bonnie fighting off a bunch of Ravenwood goons with a shotgun. We see most of the gun battle, but when Goetz walks into the house, perspective cuts to Mimi, who is in the storage closet, slowly bleeding from a gunshot wound. We hear three shots: one from Goetz's gun, which we see go through the wall a strike a shelf; one from Bonnie's shotgun; and another from Goetz, which doesn't hit the wall. Cue Mimi's stunned look as she realizes that Goetz had the last shot. We don't find out that Bonnie is dead until the very end of that episode, and we never actually see her get shot.
  • Played for Laughs with The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots, a radio Show Within a Show from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Jenny Sheperd's death at the end of season 5 of NCIS. Played with in that we see part of the fight in the next episode.
  • The suicide of the protagonist in the TV adaptation of A Perfect Spy (by John le Carré) involves him walking offscreen, then we hear a gunshot after a long pause, and then a gory shot of his body.
  • The Professionals. In "Old Dog with New Tricks", IRA terrorists have just robbed a military armoury. They take the weapons to an Abandoned Warehouse, only to be ambushed by London Gangsters who march them off to the nearest wall. Then we cut to the outside of the warehouse and the sound of gunfire.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown", we hear but don't see Winnie the Pooh get shot by a firing squad.
    Lister: That's something no one should ever have to see.
  • Happens fairly often in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis when (usually) bad guys try to get through the Stargate while the iris is closed.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. In "The Naked Now", the crew of Enterprise is shocked to hear the sound of an emergency hatch being blown, depressurizing the bridge crew of the starship Tsiolkovsky.
  • Supernatural. While it's often done for Gory Discretion Shot, the ending of "Heart" is a noteworthy example, when Sam has to Mercy Kill the Girl of the Week after discovering she's a werewolf. He takes her into the bedroom, and Dean winces at the subsequent gunshot. Cut to credits.
  • Series 3 of Torchwood. When ordered to hand over his children to a Fate Worse than Death, Frobisher requisitions a pistol then tells his wife and two daughters to go up to their room. Once the door closes behind him, four quick shots follow.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Several deaths, mostly Mercy Kills, on are handled this way as a Gory Discretion Shot. Dale, Andrea, Merle and Carl die this way.
    • Infamously, the Season 6 finale cliffhanger was done this way, with a POV shot from Negan's victim as Negan delivers the first two blows from Lucille, then it cuts to black and all you can hear is the wet impact sounds, leading to fandom jokes that Negan executed the camera operator. The death is then shown in full in the Season 7 premiere.
  • Westworld. There are two scenes where the Man in Black 'rescues' the same bandito as he's on the verge of being executed (first by hanging, then firing squad). On both occasions the camera is focussed on the bandito's blindfolded face as gunshots ring out (we see maybe one person die as he flees into camera view only to get shot In the Back) then the blindfold is removed to reveal the bandito's POV of the Man in Black and a field of bodies.
  • In the Turkish series Yakamoz S-245, Defne discovers the shelter her fiancé had fled to was actually a Safe Zone Hope Spot. They find a mobile phone on his body and play a video message where he tells Defne that the shelter is protecting them from the Solar Flare Disaster even though the sun has been up for several minutes. Suddenly we hear screams on the video and Defne turns away so she doesn't have to see what's happening.

  • The intro to "Punks" by Black Tiger Sex Machine includes a radio transmission of this nature: "We are surrounded...requesting immediate evac...there's too many of them! Aghh—-"

  • Done in Euripides's Greek myth-inspired Medea, when the eponymous character murders her children, making this trope [1].
  • Kim in Miss Saigon steps into a curtained alcove to shoot herself, although she staggers out for a Died in Your Arms Tonight finish.
  • Moritz in Spring Awakening, after his final monologue he pulls out a gun and walks off stage and/or the stage goes black and the audience hears a gunshot.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the JAWS ride at Universal Studios, the death of a fellow skipper and his passengers can only be heard when he screams over a radio transmissions.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In an optional scene, Dr. Doyle's backstory shows he had a wife and child. After a particular moment, the camera shifts to the child's toy figures where one of them is struck by a car accompanied by the sound of a crash, and the scene that follows shows Doyle standing besides his unconscious child while his wife is gone.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • You can find an ECHO recording of Jack strangling someone to death. He corrects someone that choking is what happens when you get food caught in your windpipe, and what he's doing is actually strangling.
    • One side quest is finding inspiration for Scooter to write a love poem. When you present it to the object of his affections, she excuses herself, walks through a door, and you hear a gunshot.
    • In the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve, you can find ECHO recordings of live human experimentation. Although for the most part it's not outright stated whether they lived or died (though they almost certainly did die), there is a case where the victim is known to have died; Tina's parents. The final recording is of Tina being instructed to use a grenade to escape. Doing Tina's "Tea Party" side quest confirms that her parents died there.
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Mendoza orders his thugs to kill William, then leaves and closes the door as gunshots are heard from behind it. We later learn that those gunshots were fired by Ray doing his Big Damn Heroes thing.
  • In Control, as Jesse approaches the Director's Office, a gunshot rings out from within. She rushes inside to find Trench's corpse and a gun next to his hand.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • The death of T-Bug during the Relic heist amounts to this, since at the time she's off-site providing netrunning assistance to V and Jackie. As the heist starts going south, Arasaka discovers that she's plugged into their network and fry her brain; she can be heard screaming just before her signal cuts out.
    • V's suicide in "The Reaper" ending. After they say their last farewell to Johnny, the camera pulls out to a view of the Night City skyline followed by a distant gunshot.
  • Near the end of the Forsaken DLC campaign in Destiny 2, the player's Guardian and Petra Venj have Uldren Sov on the ground at gunpoint, but the scene cuts to black before a gunshot rings out, leaving the player to decide who pulled the trigger. This is an echo to the opening scene of the DLC when the cutscene fades to black right before Uldren Sov shoots Cayde-6.
  • Hank Anderson from Detroit: Become Human can be subjected to this in two possible routes:
    • If Connor's relationship with Hank towards the end of the game is "Hostile", Connor finds him sitting at his kitchen table with a gun, a bottle of Scotch, and a picture of his deceased son while his dog Sumo whimpers in the background. Connor tries to persuade Hank to stop mourning his son, but Hank tells him to Get Out!. Connor leaves, but lingers in the front yard long enough to hear a gunshot and Sumo's Howl of Sorrow.
    • In the "Kamski" ending, Hank is once again at his kitchen table, playing Russian Roulette with his gun. The screen cuts to black just as he shoots himself.
  • Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Worst Ending. Adell kills and devours Hanako and Taro. And you hear all the splurchy nightmare-inducing noises.
  • Also used twice in Fable II. The Hero leaves the room where an artist is either painting or sculpting Reaver's likeness, followed by a comment about how the artist has made a mistake, and then a gunshot.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics: Delita approaches Valmafra, sword drawn, and the "camera" pans upwards out of the scene as a scream is heard. Later on, we learn that the person in question is still alive.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's uses this to great effect when all the animatronics finally get to Phone Guy during his Night 4 phone call.
  • In Fredbear and Friends, Thomas only every hears Richard's horrified screams as he's being dragged off and killed, and doesn't even get to find the body.
  • Iji, sector 9. Once you break Annihilator Iosa's shield, the screen cuts to black and we hear either a shotgun blast or a laser blade strike, depending whether or not you teamed up with Ansaksie.
  • Dying in Jurassic Park (Sega CD) smashes to black before letting you hear your character being ravaged by any dinosaurs, hazards, or BioSyn employees that you encountered.
  • Mass Effect:
    • At the start of the first game, Saren betrays and executes Nihlus from behind. The cutscene ends after Saren pulls out his gun on Nihlus, but the player can hear the gunshot echoing in the distance when gameplay resumes.
    • In the DLC Bring Down the Sky, one of the missing engineers' bodies shows signs of "burn marks and concussive damage." You can listen to her final audio log: "They're trying to find a way in. I think they're attaching something to the door. If I don't make it, tell my family I love — "(sound of huge explosion).
    • Mass Effect 2 has one that's very easy to miss. If you give quarian merchant Kenn a thousand credits for his ticket off Omega and then hang around after he leaves, you hear him cry out and get cut off by a gunshot. Ouch.
    • In Mass Effect 3, if you fail to save Dr. Archer's brother David at Grissom Academy — or if you do, but decide to not tell him and let him worry — he pulls out a gun and walks away to "escape from this nightmare." Then you hear a gunshot.
  • Metal Gear:
    • After defeating Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid, she's lung-shot and asks to be finished off. The camera zooms so far out that all you can see is the fog, and you hear the gunshot echo in the distance.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Since Peter Stillman's death happens over Codec, you don't get to see it onscreen; instead, you hear him scream and his Codec portrait turns into static and shakes.
    • At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake kneels in front of Big Boss's grave, puts his Springfield Operator in his mouth with one bullet, cut to black, BANG. Averted since he pulled the gun out at the last second. Good thing too since Big Boss is standing right there.
  • Super Metroid: Invoked with Crocomire. Although pushing him into the acid results in a rather graphic death scene, you can just walk away after knocking him in before he starts melting. Doing so has his death be completely offscreen, meaning that you can't see it, but you can still hear him scream, not knowing what's actually happening if you don't look.
  • In the first level of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, after climbing down to the ground, if you go off the screen to the right (into the city) instead of left (towards the harbor), the view doesn't change screens, and you hear sounds of violence from offscreen while your health meter slowly decreases to zero.
  • At the start of Penumbra Black Plague, the main character Philip wakes up in a cell, and he can hear some unfortunate sap begging for help through the wall of an adjacent cell. Then an unseen monster hacks him to death and drags the body through a door Philip can't enter. A similar event happens when another prisoner records a message on tape, tries to explain the monsters' weakness, and gets killed mid-sentence while the tape is still running.
  • In The Reconstruction, the screen abruptly fades to black right before Dehl kills Havan, who we only hear screaming. This is rather odd, considering that there was a graphic Family-Unfriendly Death not much earlier, plus the fact that the game has no reason to pretend it's still a happy-go-lucky family-friendly adventure story at that point. Although, it could be a way of showing that the extremely dark tone of chapter 6 is finally over and that the story is now going to return to a more lighthearted state.
  • Rise of the Triad puts up confirmation messages such as "Press Y to signal firing squad" when you go to exit the game. If you do confirm the quit out, the screen goes to black and the game plays an appropriate sound-bite ("Ready, aim, fire!" BANG!). There are several such messages, almost all of which suggest being executed (the two exceptions being driving your car over a cliff and pulling the plug on your life support), and every one with its own sound-bite.
  • Rule of Rose goes out of its way to avoid actually showing any violence against children, so all deaths involving them happen off-screen, with only screams to accompany them. Even bodies don't appear afterwards, only empty clothes, though the nature of the story justifies this rather well.
  • The Spectrum Retreat: as all of the game's deaths occur in sound-only flashback, you don't get to see Robin's and Matthews' deaths, but you do get to hear them.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • The victims of the Screaming Author case were taken up to the attic of Miroku Mansion and had their limbs amputated while they were still alive. This is all revealed via cassette tapes that Akira and his companions listen to, the screams from the girls having a heavy mental toll on them.
    • In the Screaming Author's Bad Ends, Akira's companion is dragged off into the attic room and the door slams shut. Akira hears their scream and some painful-sounding contorting- by the time he opens the door, the companion is already dead.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Jedi Outcast, Desann tells Tavion to kill Kyle's friend, Jan. You can hear an activating lightsaber and then a grunt. Later, when Tavion ends up being dangled over an abyss after an enraged Kyle defeated her in a lightsaber duel, she confesses that it was all a trick to anger him and that Jan is still alive, so the trope is averted in this case.
  • Trapped with Jester: When Jester tells the protagonist to close their eyes, only the dialogue box, the voices and violent noises from outside indicate that Jester is killing the carriage drivers. The eyes reopen to reveal an open door and blood staining the floor.
  • Happens in the third arc of Umineko: When They Cry where Jessica (and the reader) only hears Nanjo getting murdered by Evatrice outside the room she is in. It is as scary as it sounds especially when Evatrice begins to taunt the blinded Jessica (earlier a gun went of next to her face and she was blinded by the discharge) from the other side of the door.
  • In one of the paths in Undertale, this is how Sans dies at the end of that route's final battle, heaving himself heavily wounded off-screen, where you hear the usual noise for a monster turning to dust. That Sans both appears to bleed and doesn't turn to dust immediately like monsters should when dealt a fatal blow has created a lot of Epileptic Trees as to whether or not he actually did die, or just made the noise with his mouth before limping off elsewhere, among other theories.
  • Unreal: After a couple of brief sightings of a Skaarj on your crashed ship, you come to a locked door. Behind the door, you hear some of the other prisoners or guards (unsuccessfully) fighting the alien. Once the door finally opens, you see the Skaarj run off, leaving a pile of what used to be people on the floor behind him.
  • Done in the bad ending of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. Blair is taken offscreen to be executed by firing squad. "Blindfold?" "No." "Ready, aim, fire." (Gunshots, thump)
  • In The Works of Mercy, a man briefly enters the apartment looking for some protection against a scary, eyeless female demon who keeps chasing him. When he sees a picture of her, he runs out in horror. The door closes behind him, and then there's violent noises and screams before things go silent.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Redcloak takes control over Tsukiko's wights and orders them to drain her to death and then eat her corpse. Then comics provides four panels of Redcloak's face and speech bubbles with Tsukiko's dying screams as he watches her die.
    • Old Blind Pete, formerly known as Eagle-Eyed Pete, found out that you should never name yourself after a body part you can't afford to lose before the story began. After betraying his old Cleric friend, the latter decides to nickname him Brainy Pete before enacting his off-panel, quite noisy revenge with a mace, complete with final *squelch*.
  • Tower of God: In "The Room That Cannot Be Trusted", Lurker kills Nia with his friend listening over a comlink, with a lot of screaming and "STAB" sounds effects (even though Lurker appears to be using his Shinsu-enhanced hand). The end result is never shown, other than all the blood.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: Malory and the gang phone Archer, and then, under the impression that this is yet another elaborate voicemail prank listen with complete disinterest and boredom to 90 seconds of audio of Archer butchering a biker gang that found him in the trunk of a car.
    Pam: Well, but you gotta hand it to him. This was the best voicemail ever!
  • The Legend of Korra: P'Li's explosive powers end up backfiring when she has a metal shell clamped over her head while using them, causing her to blast her whole body to smithereens. The only thing you see is a big cloud of smoke, and the only thing you hear is a big bang from the explosion.
  • Popeye: At the end of "Happy Birthdaze" Popeye and Shorty, who's been accidentally causing Amusing Injuries the entire cartoon end up in a furnace in the dark, with Popeye in possession of Shorty's pistol. A gunshot is heard and the silent closing title says "The Bitter End".
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Does it twice. Yes, from a Scooby-Doo cartoon.
    • Ed Machine comes home to find Pericles waiting for him. He says he wants to deliver his boss a message, Ed tells him to say it and leave... Pericles informs him that he doesn't intend for him to say anything, cut to the outside where Ed's screams and wing flutters can be heard.
    • After Marcie "Hot Dog Water" Fleach's failed attempt at holding Pericles captive, he orders his Kriegstafflebots to execute her. They advance, open up their Gatling guns, cut to Velma and Scooby, they hear gunshots, and Scooby starts whimpering.
      Velma: (sadly) Just keep going, Scooby...
  • Xiaolin Showdown: This happens to Clay, Kimiko, and Raimundo in the Bad Future of "Time After Time" where Jack has taken over the world. Once he chases down the Monks, he has them kill Clay in a blast of laser-fire that covers his death, the camera pans down before Kimiko is torn in half and the only indication of Raimundo's fate is seeing a giant robot leg begin to descend on him before it cuts to Omi watching several loud bangs.


Video Example(s):


The death of Charles Morris

The tour guide at the LaTour Museum notices the cat is unusually skittish, not knowing there's a Werewolf hiding in the building. While searching for the cat, the tour guide overhears the museum curator, Dr. Charles Morris, being mauled to death in a hidden room, so he breaks off his search for the cat to go check on Dr. Morris.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / SoundOnlyDeath

Media sources: