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Stunned Silence

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Azula has that effect on people.

"A full minute of stunned silence means 'My God what did you do?' not 'Please continue'."
#540 of the Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG on the difference between amazement and horror

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Someone is shocked or stunned into silence.

There are two major types: Stunned amazement or stunned horror.

Often, stunned amazement causes the performer to think the audience's initial silence means they dislike the performance. The truth becomes apparent when they burst into applause. Often will lead to a Slow Clap. If in comedic fiction, bonus points if the sound of Chirping Crickets is the only audible thing.

Stunned horror can be further divided into stunned by stupidity, stunned by surreality, or stunned by realization of just how bad the situation is. The first two occur when a character says (or does) something so stupid or off the wall other characters are rendered unable to talk or limited to a single word, often a Flat "What". See also Chirping Crickets, Loudspeaker Truck, Face Fault, and Idiot Crows. The third, obviously, is a manifestation of Oh, Crap!, often a Mass "Oh, Crap!".

If the stunned character is known as a Deadpan Snarker, it becomes an example of Sarcasm Failure.

See also Deer in the Headlights when someone is stunned by immediate, personal danger, and Shutting Up Now for a possible follow up. If this happens during a radio broadcast, it can lead to Dead Air.

Compare Change the Uncomfortable Subject, Shell-Shock Silence and Visible Silence.


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Stunned Amazement

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: After Ichigo failed the asauchi battle test, he had to go in search of his roots. When he returned to the test, every single asauchi quietly knelt before him the moment they saw him. Nimaiya, the asauchi creator, is left speechless.
  • Gundam Build Fighters Try: The entire stadium is stunned silent by the Transformation Sequence of Tryon 3. Even the bombastic Meijin Kawaguchi and Lady Kawaguchi are left speechless!
  • This is Tron's reaction to seeing Sora using the Keyblade to shut down the barrier trapping them both inside the Pit Cell in Kingdom Hearts II. Later on, Sora amazes the program again by fixing a broken piece of data that was destroyed in an accidental hit-and-run by a Magnum Loader.
  • This happens in Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: Divine Wars when Excellen Browning shows up at the post-war celebration in a Playboy Bunny outfit. Being something that she has often offered to do, that's not the shocking part. The fact that she somehow got the Hiryu Kai's rather shy captain, Lefina Enfield, to wear one too, that's the stunner.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Ash has on rare ocassions been left speechless after some of his particularly monumental wins.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In the epilogue of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Batman walks in on Superman and Lightning Lad reminiscing the good, old days when they played dumb pranks on their teammates. When Superman tells him Lightning Lad taught his teen self the importance of sometimes breaking rules, even if it was just for fun, Batman is left speechless.
      Batman: So you two got into... trouble? You? Trouble?
      Superman: Garth taught me sometimes rules had to be broken. Sometimes just for fun.
      Batman: ...
    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Morgan Edge is left completely speechless when he tries to bully Clark Kent into accepting an assignment, and his mild-mannered pushover of an employee angrily tells him off.
    • In Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga, Brainiac 5 spends four whole panels gaping after Supergirl says he's cute.
    • In Way of the World, Wonder Woman remains silent for several instants after Supergirl tells she promised a little boy she would cure his cancer.
    • In Escape from the Phantom Zone, Batgirl becomes speechless when she asks Supergirl if she wants to hang around, and Supergirl replies she would be grateful if Batgirl helped her break into a black ops government facility.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): In an issue, Lady Jaye and Zarana have a nasty, knock down, drag out cat-fight...while all the male Joes and Cobras watch in silence.
  • The Sandman: After Lucifer's announcement that he's quit, the next three panels show a variety of expressions flit across Dream's face as he tries to process it. He wasn't sure what to expect, but he certainly didn't see that coming.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: After the fall of Cylo's replacements, Palpatine tries to explain it all away as part of his plan. Vader is having none of it, though he claims he doesn't care one way or the other.
    Palpatine: My true apprentice would frustrate the copies. Eventually, driven by pride and desperation, Cylo would go too far... and then, when he was simply a traitor, we could purge him. Do you understand, Vader?
    Vader: I do. If any of Cylo's toys had succeeded, you would be making this speech to them.
    Palpatine: "..."

    Fan Works 
  • Blixemi: In Sandstorm's "Know Your Clanmate" episode, she's at first very snarky and unbothered by the claims the narrator makes. Then it's claimed that she drinks blood and performs evil moonlight rituals to take over the Clans, temporarily shocking her into an open-mouthed silence.
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: Absol takes a second to process the fact that Zwei, a corgi, has given her a daisy.
  • In The Boy with the Magic Notebook, Maxwell needs to prove beyond any doubt to Battery and Assault that his notebook is as powerful as he claims. This is their reaction to when he decides to summon a Gigantic Flying Holy Chocolate Donut.
  • In "Maleficent and Descendants: A mother's love", when Maleficent explains her history to the people of Auradon, everyone in Auradon is stunned when they see the moment where Aurora called Maleficent her fairy godmother, with Mal in particular being even more surprised when Dude asks if Aurora and Maleficent's mother/daughter dynamic makes Aurora the equivalent of Mal's sister.
  • It's not the Raptor DNA:
    • In Chapter 24, Dr. Grant becomes pale and silent when Elise solves the intelligence puzzle that demonstrates her human-level intellect. He later quietly thanks her.
    • Blue, Delta, and Echo have this reaction in Chapter 25 after Owen attempts to use the Velociraptor resonating chamber to recreate their vocalizations.
    Owen pressed his lips when Blue turned back to him. She opened her mouth like she was going to reply, but closed her mouth as she seemed to think, then she opened it again. It was clear she was at a loss for words. Owen caught Echo and Delta sharing a brief glance before quietly staring at him. The silence was deafening to Owen. Dr. Grant finally let out a snorted laugh as he quietly said, "You have stunned your raptors into pure silence. I am truly amazed."
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: A pony called Clover Charms just asks "Who?" when Twilight Sparkle mentions Star-Swirl the Bearded. For several seconds, she can only say "..." in response.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: A shocked silence envelops Nerv's control bridge when a legion of Minisukas suddenly shows up to fight Samshel.
    A dozen camera feeds were brought up, showing a curious sight. A fleet of RC cars painted red and kitbashed to look like post-apocalyptic raider vehicles manned by Minisukas. This was accompanied by a large flock of mismatched birds of different breeds ridden by even more Minisukas. Apparently, the cavalry had arrived, and they couldn't decide between a post-apocalyptic or fantasy aesthetic. The command center was engulfed by a stunned silence, once again due to the arrival of the tiny reinforcements.
  • In Truth and Revelations, Hermione gets hit by two, first when she realises that Harry Potter has returned to the wizarding world after over two decades of absence (albeit now calling himself Daniel Jackson) and secondly when ‘Harry’ reveals that Lord Voldemort has returned.
  • In the 2 Broke Girls fic "Unexpected", when Max has spent the last few months living with Caroline as their bakery does well, she fully expects Caroline to move out and get her own place. However, when Caroline kisses Max and outright says "I think I'm in love with you", it leaves Max feeling as though her entire worldview has shattered and she's only able to mutter "I-I" before Caroline's further confession gives Max the focus to confirm that she loves Caroline too.
  • In the Twice Upon an Age side volume Agents Acquired, this is Horsemaster Dennet's reaction to the fact that the Inquisitors have acquired the mount known colloquially as the Deth Nug. When he finally manages to speak again, all he can say is, " has hands."
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Blake is stunned by how saccharine sweet and straightforward Izuku is when he introduces himself to her for the second time.
    Izuku: [giving a big, quivery smile and holding out a hand to shake] Hi, my name's Izuku Midoriya and I'm here to be the best Huntsman I can be. Nice to meet you!
    Blake: [gaping for a moment before chuckling] I can't even ask if you're being real or not. Seeing is believing at this point with you.
  • In Futures Freak Me Out, Shinji becomes completely speechless when Asuka — who used to be adamant about remaining just friends — blurts out they should date.
    "I think we should date."
    No laughter now. Silence and the sound of a person thinking, if that's a sound at all. I can hear it over the running water, in my state.
  • Role-Playing (Evangelion): Neither Gendo nor Fuyutsuki are able to talk after watching Shinji reenacting the conversation where he told his father off.
    The commanders watched in complete silence.
    Shock might have been an accurate description.
    Just a total stunned pause in their daily routine.

    Film — Animated 
  • Happens at the final performance in Cats Don't Dance, before the audience bursts into applause. Somewhat justified, as the audience had taken considerable abuse during the show.
  • How to Train Your Dragon. Gobber and most of the kids in dragon training are rendered completely speechless when Hiccup is able to force a Hideous Zippleback to get back into its cage, seemingly by just commanding it to do so.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The ending of Babe has the entire crowd silent after watching Babe herd the sheep perfectly. They then erupt into thunderous applause.
  • Godzilla, of all creatures, gets one in the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. He attacks what appears to be his exact twin with his radioactive flame. Only for the thing to have metal under its skin. Godzilla actually tilts his entire upper body in shock to one side with a general sense of his body language and expression more or less screaming "What the Hell?!" Mechagodzilla gets one a few moments before when Godzilla shows up and gets a second one near the climax of the film when Godzilla emerges from the ocean for round two. Despite being a machine, Mechagodzilla's sudden reaction to the churning water shows that this Mechagodzilla had some level of AI as it was almost as if it was startled by the noise. When Godzilla himself emerges, Mechagodzilla just kinda stands there for a few moments. One has to wonder if it would have reacted at all if the aliens who built it hadn't then told the thing to "Beat Godzilla to Death."
  • At the climax of Johnny English, Johnny ends up accidentally being crowned king. He, along with everyone else, spend a long time completely stupefied.
  • Kaamelott: Premier Volet: At the border between Hispania and Aquitania, we learn King Arthur hasn't spoken a word since he was caught by Alzagar the Bounty Hunter. He breaks his silence to yell at the border guard and demands he arrests him and the bounty hunter for bringing slaves into Logres. His and his companion Venec's yelling becomes an Annoying Background Event as the bounty hunter tries to negotiate... and then Venec yells "The Duchess of Aquitania is a whore!" Even Arthur stares at Venec in a stunned silence, but it works.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, when Sauron falls the main characters who are fighting at the Black Gate are literally stunned into silence. It makes more sense in the extended editions because it is revealed that the Mouth of Sauron told everyone Frodo was dead (or in the books, captured and awaiting death); it's to be expected that his victory would bring on a "Holy freaking crap, Frodo's alive!" as well as a "Holy freaking crap, we actually won!"
  • Ting's first "fight" in the underground fight club in Ong-Bak results in this. Ting, who didn't even want to fight and stepped into the ring by accident, takes his opponent down with a single unbelievably fast knee to the chest. Everyone watching is shocked and speechless, aside from a crime boss who won a big bet on the fight with another kingpin.
  • Happens at the performance of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare in Love before the audience bursts into applause.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Holmes is seen participating in a bare-fisted boxing match watched by a crowd loudly and savagely baying for blood. However, after Holmes — who has previously been holding back — completely beats the crap out of his opponent in six seconds in response to his opponent's ill-advised decision to spit at the back of Holmes' head, the crowd immediately goes silent with shock, except for one chap who indignantly mutters, "Where the hell did that come from?!"
  • In Spotlight, when a psychologist says that roughly 6 percent of priests are pedophiles, the Spotlight team does some quick math and comes up with a whopping ninety priests in Boston alone. The psychologist, still on the phone, asks if they're still there after a long silence, but the reporters can still barely speak.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson has learned about Project T.A.H.I.T.I, an incredibly risky procedure capable of bringing a person back from death involving aliens and surgery, and which was used on him, and talks with Nick Fury about it.
    Fury: It was a "break glass in case of emergency" situation.
    Coulson: Yes, but that emergency was supposed to be the fall of an Avenger!
    Fury: Exactly.
    Coulson: ...
    Fury: And I'm damn glad I did it, too.
  • Angel: An effective use of both tension and comedy at the same time is found in the Series 4 finale. For several long moments at the start of the episode, absolutely no-one speaks. The camera pans around all six characters as each one shifts position or opens their mouth as though about to speak, but no-one does. It's clear the entire cast is absolutely stunned by whatever Lilah has just said. Lilah herself doesn't speak just waits, smug and amused, as Angel's team try and gather their wits and find their voices. Word of God reveals that it was deliberately timed to coincide with the length of time it takes for the credits to scroll across the screen as they'd once observed how long it takes and thought it would be funny to have absolutely no talking for that long if they could ever think of a plot. They thought of one.
  • Cheers: The first sign that Dr. Lilith Sternin's Diane-assisted makeover has had the intended effect on poor Frasier and more is that, after she's entered their TV interview, we see Fras just sitting there, staring slack-jawed at her.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the season 2 finale, when Matt meets with Karen in the shuttered Nelson & Murdock office.
    Matt Murdock: Thanks for seeing me.
    Karen Page: What am I doing here, Matt?
    Matt Murdock: I, uh, have something...
    Karen Page: No. I don't want...
    Matt Murdock: I have something that I need you to see.
    [Matt pulls his Daredevil helmet out of a paper bag. Karen looks at him, first in confusion and then in dawning realization and shock]
    Matt Murdock: ...I'm Daredevil.
  • Doctor Who: In "Journey's End", the Tenth Doctor has been shot by a Dalek! You know what that means! He'll regenerate, and change into a completely different person! The Doctor's companions Rose, Donna and Jack back away as he begins to glow and change — only for him to redirect his energy into his old hand and just stand there, smiling, looking completely the same. They just stare in stunned amazement.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Jorah is rendered utterly speechless when he sees Daario leaving Daenerys' quarters in the morning. By the time he gets his audience with Dany, he's recovered enough to deliver a snarky comment.
    • And there's the Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment when a drunken Tyrion Lannister, pushed to the limit by King Joffrey's petty cruelty, threatens to geld His Grace. The entire room falls silent and only Lord Tywin Lannister dares speak to defuse the situation.
  • Sesame Street: In the Season 17 premiere, the adults are reduced to about a half minute of amazed silence (complete with some jaw drops) when they finally get a look at Mr. Snuffleupagus in the flesh (or fur) after almost 15 seasons of being oblivious and none the wiser to his existence.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Absolute Candor", when Elnor sees Jean-Luc Picard again for the first time in fourteen years, he's so shocked that he freezes in his tracks and gapes, unable to speak.
    • In "Broken Pieces", Rios is so stunned when Soji beams aboard La Sirena that he doesn't even hear Picard's voice.

  • Pinball Magic incorporates this into a mode: "Silence the Critics".

  • In "The Mountain Whippoorwill," a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet, Hillbilly Jim gets no applause because the crowd is stunned by his fiddle playing. He's that good.

    Video Games 
  • This is extremely common in the Ace Attorney games, usually when a witness says something that is either incredibly stupid or implausible or that casts supreme suspicion on them.
  • Apparently happens at the beginning of Bioshock Infinite to Booker Dewitt when he first witnesses Columbia, judging from this scene.
  • In Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Trip reacts that way when she sees Monkey battling Mechs for the first time.
  • In Jak II: Renegade, the titular character just looks on at the girl behind the curtain (later revealed to be Keira) in a romantic trance, with his mouth wide open, while Daxter attempts to get him to snap out of it.
  • Mass Effect 2: After Mordin Solus shows he is the very model of a scientist salarian, regardless of the player's choice of response, there's a pause between it and Shepard actually saying something, suggesting s/he's having one of these.
    Mordin: ... still prefer patter songs.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Angry Joe's review of Starcraft II begins with a full fifteen seconds of him staring dazedly into the camera before fainting. (Yes, it's that good.)
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • His review of the Power Glove had a rather stunning example of this: while testing out the game Top Gun and its notoriously finicky landing sequence, he managed to land using the glove. His response? There wasn't one.
    • He did the same thing when his review of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had him beat Shadow Link with the Power GloveHow it happened . Idly. While talking to the audience. He has to do a Double Take when he realizes what he had done.
  • Chester A. Bum's reaction to The Dark Knight is similar, beginning with several seconds of staring in slack-jawed amazement.
  • The members of Critical Role went to Kickstarter to fund The Legend of Vox Machina, an animated short, giving it a goal of $750,000 and a time limit of 45 days. The funding was met in less than 45 minutes, and the stretch goal of a million dollars was hit in under an hour. Within twelve hours of the Kickstarter opening, the critters had raised more than three million dollars, completing all of the stretch goals in less than half a day. This even got Critical Role the world record for the most-funded film project ever in the site's history at the time. The result? A planned FAQ stream started with Matthew Mercer, Travis Willingham, and Marisha Ray sitting in silence, just staring at the camera. This lasts until Travis finally lets out some Tension-Cutting Laughter, causing them all to break down laughing, barely able to process what's just happened.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, everyone's jaw drops when they find out Bumi's story about developing airbending wasn't a story after all.
  • The Owl House: At the end of "Through the Looking Glass Ruins", Amity gives Luz a quick kiss on the cheek spontaneously after Luz helped get her job at the library back, after an entire episode of incredibly smitten behavior. With Luz in Stunned Silence, Amity instantly gets embarrassed.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Suited for Success", when Fluttershy demonstrates her knowledge of sewing, after Rarity keeps asking for her honest opinion on Fluttershy's gala dress, Rarity's reaction is to stare, slack-jawed and speechless, at Fluttershy.
    • In "Family Appreciation Day", all of the fillies and colts of the Ponyville schoolhouse, including Apple Bloom, are reduced to several seconds of amazed jaw-dropping silence after Granny Smith finishes her story and reveals she was responsible for the founding of Ponyville.
    • In "Twilight Time" when Twilight exits the café, she is greeted by a horde of fillies and colts who stare up at her in jaw-dropped silence for a few moments, prior to squealing excitedly and crowding around her.
  • In Sonic Boom, Sticks, Amy, and Tails are stunned silent when Knuckles calls out Amy's comment on being just as good as a soccer player as a boy, surprised at his rather-insightful comment.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Spark of Rebellion", this is Ezra and the Wookiees' reaction to seeing Kanan break out his lightsaber during the Kessel rescue.
  • Steven Universe:
  • In Total Drama, the Gophers are struck speechless when the RCMP comes for Izzy.
  • At the beginning of Season Two of Jackie Chan Adventures, Uncle chooses the newly-reformed Tohru as his Chi magic apprentice. Throughout the episode "Jade Times Jade," Tohru keeps making mistakes, prompting the old man to regret his decision. However, at the episode's end (when the two have flown to Japan to help banish the Monster of the Week), Tohru manages to get this reaction from Uncle regarding Jade's attempt at magical cloning:

    Real Life 
  • Utter audience silence can be the sign of a deeply moving musical performance, and as such is an enormous compliment to the performers.
  • There are stories about filmmakers that went to Japan to show their movies and were shocked when no one cheered or clapped after they ended, only for them to be told that that's how Japanese people compliment it.

Stunned Horror

    Anime & Manga 
  • Done to hilarious effect in Digimon Adventure episode 30. While the Chosen Children/Digidestined are on the subway, a baby begins yanking on Pyokomon's stem. Pyokomon, who is pretending to be a stuffed animal, does her best to keep silent and still until she can't take it anymore and screams at the baby to cut it out. Everyone in the entire train car goes absolutely silent, including the kids, who are simply staring in shocked horror at Pyokomon's outburst. Even the music abruptly stops, adding to the humor of the awkward situation. Thankfully, the dub retains the silence in the scene.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stone Ocean: Emporio's reaction as Pucci kills everyone sans Jolyne in an instant is staring in horror before screaming.
    • Steel Ball Run: After Gyro dies, Johnny becomes visibly disdained after what occurred. It happened so fast, he was so dumbfounded that he couldn't do anything but watch, teary-eyed desperate.
  • Jormungand's main character Koko Hekmatyar revealing exactly what plan Jormungand involves in episode 10 of season 2 elicits unfavorable reactions from her subordinates.
  • This is Sora's reaction to finding out that "Ping" is female in Kingdom Hearts II. He soon covers his face and tries to excuse himself in a humiliating way.
    Sora: ...Oh. Err. 'Sup? Um? I'm sorry! I didn't know you were a girl!
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, after Mami dies, you see the faces of Sayaka and Madoka and the look of utter horror on their faces. Considering what they just witnessed, anyone would react the same way.
  • Steins;Gate: When Okabe loudly makes light of Ruka's androgynous appearance in front of the whole lab in a mid-series episode, he gets this trope as a response because in this World Line, Ruka was born a girl, making what is usually an in-joke between the two of them come off as incredibly mean spirited instead.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: A regular element of being around Mihoshi.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Britain and MI13: It happened when Dane Whitman, Black Knight, needed a sword. Faiza Hussain grabs one and everyone's stunned shocked at what she grabbed: Excalibur.
  • Even Palpatine gets such a moment, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Sith Hunters, when Anakin tells him Darth Maul has returned.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: A strange green creature that can cast fireballs attacks Peter's school, and is driven away by Spider-Man. When everything is said and done, everyone's talking about the creature when Harry drops the bomb: "He was my father". For some moments, everybody is speechless.
  • In Blake and Mortimer, Ashoka confronts Mortimer with the latter's dagger, intending to make him publicly admit that he killed his daughter, Gita. Though, Mortimer explains that the dagger is paired with another and the one Ashoka is holding belonged to Sushil. Mortimer further adds that his own dagger was lost when he killed the tiger that attacked Gita. Sensing that Mortimer is telling truth and realizing that Sushil has lied to him, Ashoka is silent for a moment.
  • Superman:
    • In Who is Superwoman?, Lois Lane tells Supergirl and Lana Lang to get out of her apartment when they reveal the villain Superwoman, who apparently died fighting Supergirl, was her sister Lucy. Kara and Lana are leaving when Lois renders both women speechless by suddenly asking for a sample of Superwoman's costume to get it analyzed.
    • In Crucible, Kara gapes in wordless horror when she gets brought to Korstus' lab chambers and discovers he is growing an army of Superboy clones.
    • In Superman vs. Shazam!, both Black Adam and the Sandman Superman are rendered speechless when Karmang reveals he plans to destroy two parallel Earths simultaneously.
      Black Adam: What about those worlds, wizard?
      Karmang: I want you to place a device on each Earth which will cause those worlds to become magnetically attracted to each other— resulting in planetary collision— and the utter destruction of both planets!
      Narration: And in the castle of Karmang, on the red planet Mars, there is a total stunned silence!
    • The Plague of the Antibiotic Man: Amalak is struck dumb when he sees Supergirl, who he believed helpless, breaking the chains with which he had tied her to a chair.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
  • Ambition of the Red Princess: when Raphtalia declares Malty is like a mother to her and that she won't let the attacking Outer Goddess kill her, said goddess, being the Raphtalia from the web novel, is left watching at her in horror.
  • In the Total Drama story, Legacy, the contestants (but not Chris or Chef Hatchet) are dumbfounded when the killer slashes his victim.
  • Mastermind: Strategist for Hire: At a UA staff meeting on how to move on from All Might's death at the USJ, Nedzu states that there may be nobody strong enough to defeat a potentially still-alive All For One, since All Might didn't pass on One For All before his death. The attendees are left speechless with horror.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Keiko Nagare becomes too horrified to speak when Asuka reveals she thought about killing herself after beating Keiko up (which only happened because her mind was being tampered with, but Asuka does not know that).
    The words fell on Keiko's chest like an anvil. She gasped, her left hand clutching the front of her gown as if to brace herself. Her mouth hung open but she couldn't speak, leaving her to stare in terrified silence at the girl she admired—the girl whom she wanted to emulate, to grow up and be like. The haughty, beautiful, popular, courageous Asuka Langley Soryu… thought about killing herself?
  • This happens multiple times in Oh God, Not Again!. One of the more notable instances is when Harry mouths off at Voldemort several times while he's at his mercy and surrounded by Death Eaters, who just can't believe what they're seeing.
  • In A Prize for Three Empires, Kree gladiator Iva Kann is left speechless when Carol Danvers points out that she is nothing but cannon fodder for her superiors, no matter how good Iva believes she is.
    "Now they're matching you against me, just for the pleasure of the big boys," Carol continued. "Just for the pleasure of seeing me killed. Isn't that right?"
    "The basic idea of it is correct," Iva agreed.
    "This has all been done to make you into the perfect fighting machine. Would you agree with that?"
    Iva looked as though she were being drawn into a trap, but couldn't bring herself to avoid it. "Not in those precise words, but the gist of it is valid."
    "So what happens when they want an even more perfect fighting machine, and throw you to her as a sacrifice?"
    Iva's jaw was open. No sound came out.
  • Read the Fine Print (Evangelion): Shinji and Asuka become unable to speak when Rei casually says she is completely expendable.
    Rei solemnly shook her head. "That does not matter. The Angels must be defeated at any cost. If I die, I can be replaced."
    The matter-of-fact way she said that caused both Asuka and Shinji's eyes widen in shock. None of them managed to speak again before the warning bell for the end of lunch rang.
  • In the Star Trek fanfic Retribution, Kirk is "surprised temporarily beyond words" when Spock confesses that he still feels guilty about nearly killing Kirk during the kal-i-fee. When he can speak again, he protests that Spock was Not Himself.
  • In Say Something, Cass Hamada has been dropping some not-so-subtle hints about her interest in her nephew, Hiro (such as asking him about Sex-Ed, kissing him right on the mouth, and questioning him about a movie's sex scene). Once she has him on her bed and is about to cross that line with him, she asks him if he is ok with all this. Unfortunately, Hiro is unable to say no due to being too stunned to speak, prompting Cass to take his silence as consent.
  • The SCP Foundation has a list of Things Dr. Bright Is Not Allowed To Do At The Foundation. Item 73 is quite fitting...
    A full minute of stunned silence means "My God what did you do?" not "Please continue." [[note]]This also happens to be rule #540 of the Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG, the inspiration for this list.
  • Star Wars vs. Warhammer 40K: When Yoda shows Hondo's footage of an Imperial death camp on Axum to the Galactic Senate, the entire chamber becomes dead silent as every senator stares in horror at the inhumane tortures and mass killings being inflicted on Axum's non-human populace by the Imperium of Man.

    Film — Animated 
  • Barbie: Princess Charm School: The second Dame Devin gets a good look at Blair's face for the first time, she is stunned and stares at her for a while before Delancey cuts in. This is because Blair is the baby Sophia, the Sole Survivor of the Royal Family of Gardania, and she is worried the true heir to the throne will take over the part she intended for Delancey.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Simba can only gape in as shock as his daughter Kiara tells him that he'll never be the king his father was because his judgement of Kovu had proven it.
  • Monsters, Inc.: When Roz asks if he remembered to file his paperwork for once, Mike answers with a frozen, forced grin.
    Roz: Your stunned silence is very reassuring.
  • Shrek 2: After Fiona and Shrek get out of the carriage, the whole kingdom is shocked by the appearance of their princess and who her husband is (including the king and queen). It becomes so quiet that the only sound is a lone baby crying.
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, Mei was going to run for class president against Tyler and the debate would have ended with Mei turning into her giant red panda form in front of the entire assembly resulting in a moment of awkward silence which is interrupted only by someone coughing.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Mission Control in Apollo 13 after Lovell reports that "we are venting something into space" and everyone realizes just how bad the situation is.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Steve is fighting the eponymous villain in the streets. He's fast, strong, has a metal arm, and is as every bit as skilled in combat as Captain America is. Then, he manages to unmask the Winter Soldier. When he sees that it's Bucky, he looks on in disbelief, and when he realizes that Bucky had no idea who he himself is, let alone who Steve is, that disbelief turns into horror and Steve quickly enters a Heroic BSoD.
    Steve: ...Bucky?
    The Winter Soldier: Who the hell is Bucky?
  • A Leave the Camera Running example is featured in Funny Games after the couple's child is killed and the killers depart. The parents sit motionlessly and in silence for over a minute.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Ring must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm whence it came. *Beat* One of you must do this." It’s almost jarring not to hear crickets in the silence that follows, as the camera pans out to observe that no one in the council is moving a muscle. Boromir finally breaks the silence with the now-meme-tastic line: “One does not simply Walk into Mordor."
  • In MacGruber, Only Sane Man Piper has this reaction when listening to MacGruber's backstory of him and the villain, learning that the latter's grudge against the former is all too justified.
  • A "stupidity" example in The Princess Bride after Buttercup and Westley enter the Fire Swamp.
    Westley: It's not that bad.
    Buttercup: [turns her head and stares disbelievingly at him]
    Westley: Well, I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.
    Buttercup: [continues to stare at him]
  • The Producers: The audience upon seeing the opening musical number for the play Springtime For Hitler.
  • In RoboCop (1987), during the scene when Robocop attempts to stop Emil (one of the criminals who killed him) from robbing a gas station, and Emil realizes that Robocop is the police officer they thought they killed. Robocop, who has no memory of his death, is so shocked he doesn't even react to Emil firing at him.
    Robocop: Drop it! Dead or alive, you're coming with me.
    Emil: ...I know you. You're dead. We killed you. (fires gun) We killed you!
  • Spotlight: During a phone call, an expert researcher shocks the Spotlight reporting team with the statistic that 6 percent of priests are child molesters. The reporters do some quick math and come up with a whopping ninety priests in Boston alone. The resulting silence is so long that the researcher has to ask if they're still there; they can only stutter out "Uh-" as a response.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The survivors of the mansion's destruction are all shocked and speechless when they realize that their school has been reduced to a big pile of smoking debris.

  • Happens in The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore. Wulfgar wins a one-on-one fight by crushing the guy's skull with his bare hands. After the fight, a herald was supposed to step in and proclaim the winner. Instead, everyone just stands around staring at what he'd done.
  • Fire & Blood:
    • When Aegon II is declared king after the death of his father, instead of Rheanyra, the one her father declared the heir, some of the people of King's Landing cheered. The rest were just very, very quiet, as they realised what was about to happen.
    • On the day Aegon III turns sixteen and his regency ends, the regents are very alarmed when he enters the throne room with four of his Kingsguard and the towering One-Man Army Sandoq the Shadow. It's Aegon who breaks the silence by asking, very calmly, just how old he is, and then telling the regents they're sitting in his chair.
  • In Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story this is Tenkaichi's reaction to having his summation and reveal of the murder's identity interrupted by the murderer killing herself. After the full confession and death Tenkaichi walks slowly out of the room and asks the chief if he can go home as he can no longer have his dramatic moment.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: this was also the general reaction when, during the Tourney at Harrenhal, Rhaegar Targaryen crowned Lyanna Stark (who was bethrothed to Robert Baratheon) Queen of Love and Beauty instead of his own wife Elia Martell. Several characters looked back at that moment and realize that Rhaegar had unwittingly planted the first seed of the coming war of rebellion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, poor Trevor is left horrified and grossed out for several seconds after watching a clip of Donald Trump making a objectifying remark about his then-infant daughter.
  • Daredevil (2015): In "Nelson v. Murdock", while Foggy is ripping into Matt over his double life as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, Matt reveals what caused him to take up vigilantism: he overheard a man molesting and/or raping his own daughter, and he never got arrested because his wife refused to believe it. Foggy, who's spent the episode up to this point angrily chewing Matt out, can only muster a single horrified curse and shudder.
  • In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier everyone present has this reaction after John Walker aka Captain America decapitates an unarmed flag smasher with Steve’s shield.
  • Friends: "I’m pregnant. (Ross stops.) Ross? (Ross is staring off into space.) Ross? (Ross is still frozen) Okay, whenever you’re ready. (Sits back and opens her magazine.) And you’re the father by the way — but you got that…"
  • Game of Thrones: In the Wham Episode "The Rains of Castamere", Catelyn Tully has this reaction when her son Robb is killed. The silence is stretched through the entire credits sequence with a total lack of sound or music.
  • Kamen Rider Saber: When the new Calibur gets knocked out of transformation, everyone present just stares at him until Touma gathers enough stregth to whispers his name.
  • Our Miss Brooks: This happens to Miss Brooks in the episode "Home Cooked Meal". Miss Brooks realizes that Mr. Conklin has gone into a dark kitchen that has filled with natural gas. When Mr. Conklin announces he's going to light a match, horror-stricken, she can only mouth a warning. Fortunately, Mr. Conklin's all right, although a little worse for wear.
  • Punk'd: Wilmer Valderrama couldn't do anything but stare in shock as his expensive car was dented and had its windows smashed in.
  • Saturday Night Live: When Sinéad O'Connor appeared as a musical guest in 1992, she sang a cover of Bob Marley's "War", and at the end, she tore a photo of Pope John Paul II and shouted "Fight the real enemy!" as a way to protest child abuse in the Western world. Everybody in the studio was so shocked that Lorne Michaels ordered that they go to commercial without switching on the "Applause" sign.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Absolute Candor", Picard wordlessly gapes when Elnor lops off Tenqem's head with his sword.
    • In "The Impossible Box", Picard, Soji and Hugh are dead quiet for a few moments after Elnor saves them from three Romulan soldiers, whom he butchers with his sword, which causes his victims to unleash a fair amount of arterial spray.
    • In "Nepenthe", as Hugh is dying in his arms, Elnor is speechless.
    • In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", Picard is incapable of a response when an xB addresses him as "Locutus," a name that he sorely dreads.
  • In Tiger King campaign manager Josh is sitting around the office one day working when Joe's husband Travis starts playing around with a loaded gun, he puts it up to his head and promptly blows his own brains out. Poor Josh just sits there completely silent for a full forty seconds.
  • That '70s Show has this instance from Season One when they guys talk about how Jackie "whips" Kelso.
    Hyde (imitating Jackie): "Michael, call me at 8:00!"
    Eric (also imitating Jackie): "Michael, do your Chico impression!"
    Fez (also imitating Jackie): "Michael, rub oil on my thighs, while I spank you."
    (Kelso, Hyde, and Eric are visibly disturbed in silent stares by what Fez just said. Now, back to Fez.)
    Fez (uncomfortable): ...Please someone else talk now.


    Professional Wrestling 

  • On How Green Was My Cactus, Pauline Hatful's press conferences invariably end with her saying something of such breathtaking stupidity, that the entire the conference falls silent and the cameras stop clicking. Inevitably followed by Pauline's baffled Catchphrase "Why is everybody looking at me?".

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ivan doesn't really speak anyway, but upon coming across Daigo's homemade lizard monster and watching it nearly eat multiple people, get hit by a car, get back to its feet and try to attack Ciro, only for Zia to use her telepathy to explode its brain, he notes that, even if he could speak, he wouldn't have been able to find anything to say.
    • Upon coming across the destroyed nurse's office, the severely burned and screaming school nurse, and then witnessing Jessica's blase reaction to it, Destiny is freaked out to the point that she can't put it into words.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Ron White: "I got kicked off the high school debate team for saying 'Yeah?! Well, fuck you!!' I thought I had won. The other kid was speechless."

    Video Games 
  • When the Bkjhfjdgelkans nuke themselves in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, all radio chatter stops for thirty seconds. Even the BGM stops and is replaced with quiet white noise for the rest of the mission. Coupled with the Interface Screw from the nukes' EMP, the end result is scary.
  • If you chose to save Doug in episode one of The Walking Dead: Season One, once episode three rolls around and Lily is at the tipping point of violent suspicion as to who in the group was slipping supplies to the bandits, she quietly draws her gun and attempts to shoot Ben when no one is looking, but Doug sees it just in time to pull Ben out of the way and get shot instead. Lily goes completely still, with a look of complete shock on her face while staring at Doug's body, and silently shakes her head.
  • Mass Effect 3 has the ship's A.I. "EDI" get her own robotic body. One discussion leads to Shepard asking if Edi's processing power and attention might be drawn elsewhere by her new abilities to any troublesome level:
    EDI: Do not worry, Shepard. I only forget to recycle the Normandy's oxygen when I find something truly interesting.
    Shepard: (silent facial expression of utter horror)
    EDI: That was a joke.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Should Ryder nominate Nakmor Morda, a krogan so bad-tempered other krogan call her a hardass, to be an ambassador, and then go to speak to Initiative Director Tann afterward, Tann is so horrified (in part because of his severe Fantastic Racism toward krogan) he can't even speak, just sputtering at Ryder.
  • In Mother 3, a Pigmask does this when Lucas crashes and totals the Pork Bean he brought him mere seconds after he gets into it. He remains there utterly speechless for the rest of the game.
  • Pokémon Black and White: This happens to N when Ghetsis insults him and reveals Team Plasma's real goals.
  • Poker Night at the Inventory has several examples, but none more visible than during the Tycho's giraffe story, and the Heavy's Engineer story.
  • In Last Scenario, Ethan has this reaction when Castor, in a Villainous Breakdown, causes him to remember that he's Castor's older brother, who saved his life many years ago.
  • This is Varric's reaction in Dragon Age: Inquisition, should Hawke, his best friend, be the one to make the Heroic Sacrifice in the Fade.
  • Shuichi Saihara goes completely silent in Dangan Ronpa V 3 Killing Harmony in Case 1 when he's accused of being the killer. Ironically, the reason he's stunned into silence isn't because he's being accused, but because he's figured out that the killer was (supposedly) Kaede Akamatsu and really doesn't want to reveal the truth of her crime since they've become good friends. Kaede herself eventually talks him out of it.

    Web Comics 
  • Done in Girl Genius in this page... although not for the same reason for everyone.
  • In the Erstwhile version of "Maid Maleen", the princess and her chambermaid are left speechless with horror when they break out of their prison and find out someone has destroyed the kingdom and killed everybody while they were locked away in the tower.
  • Subverted in Gunnerkrigg Court. It looks like Antimony has gotten Coyote stunned silent with a revelation about Renard, but it turns out Coyote is faking, and he knew about the revelation all along.
  • Spacetrawler: Upon discovering that all Eebs are lobotomized at birth, Martina takes a full three panels to absorb the information.

    Web Original 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • Brittnay has this in Episode 42 after Greg calls her out with a lengthy "The Reason You Suck" Speech about her being whiny.
    • This happens to Brittnay after her mother chews her out at the end of Episode 52.
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary:
    • Havoc does this in Episode 15 when Kim notes that there's a chance that Brock is Ally's real father.
    • Kim does this in Episode 24 when Ally (really Havoc) tells her that she (Ally) has always loved her father more than her.
  • When Linkara reviewed Cable #1, he mentioned a panel showing part of the World Trade Center blown up. His face showed that Harsher in Hindsight didn't even begin to cover it.
  • When Todd in the Shadows reviewed Chris Brown's "Deuces", Kevin McCall's line "Like Tina did to Ike in the limo, it finally hit me" caused this. And follows by asking how it remained on the song (complete with a mock conversation where Brown asks to remove the lyric because they compare him enough already with Ike Turner). He has since had more instances of that, such as another Chris Brown-related song, Lil Dicky's "Freaky Friday" ("ain't nobody judging 'cause I'm black, or my controversial past." Todd describes the subsequent silence as his brain crashing.) and Liz Phair singing "You're being a penis- colada, that is" (where his only response is a wrestling tap out).
  • In Suburban Knights, when the main villain, an Evil Luddite wizard who wants to destroy all technology turns out to have a smartphone, everyone just stays silent for a moment. Then The Nostalgia Critic calls out on him... discovering the bad guy is even more of a hypocrite than he seems!
  • In a crossover review of The Incredible Hulk Returns, when Thor says to Donald Blake (in case you don't know, in the comics both are the same person) "I like you, Blake, but only when you're asleep!" Nash and Film Brain can only deliver horrified expressions.
  • Early on in Marble Hornets, Alex gets stunned in the middle of a rehearsal for his student film upon seeing Slender Man standing on a porch down the street. This leaves his two companions rather annoyed, as he never explains what has him so spooked.
  • In the 2nd installment of Spooning with Spoony, the Nostalgia Critic, having woken up in a bed, with Spoony, spends the entirety of the segment with his mouth wide open in silent horror, never making a sound. Angry Joe, also waking up with them, is only silent for a moment before attempting to attack Spoony.
  • SF Debris: Kirk and Picard react this way to Archer's Talkative Loon display in one meeting. Janeway, meanwhile, reacts with enthusiasm...but then, of course, she does.
  • When reviewing the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Dark Music", JonTron is initially confused by the ending, where the hero locks the bully in the basement with a monster.
    Jon: Wait, what's this? He's got a new bike now? Well, that doesn't make any sense. I mean, how did it- (Watches the ending unfold) ...They didn't blow it.
  • When doing a Let's Play of Five Nights at Freddy's 4, Markiplier is left stunned speechless by The Bite of '87. Mostly because a combination of the brutality of it all, that a kid was the victim, and that it was his Big Brother Bully that caused it.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged adaptation of The World's Strongest, Bulma is left in this state as Kochin reveals that Dr. Wheelo's creation, Blub-Blub/The Bouncing Butcher is actually sentient and is actually showing quite glee that the creature is dying and wants someone to hold him.
  • In their joint channel DanAndPhilGAMES, while doing a playthrough of Undertale, Dan and Phil are both surprised (and creeped out) enough by Flowey's Evil Laugh the first time they hear it that they just sit there in silence for a good few seconds.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's "Battle of the Commercials" special, the final commercial is the infamous, extremely disturbing "Little Baby's Ice Cream" commercial, which featured a horrifyingly human-like ice cream monster staring at the camera and eating its own head with a spoon while it describes the product. The commercial appears to leave Critic in horrified silence, mouth agape. Subverted, in that it's actually just a cardboard cutout of Critic.
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, in Episode 8, while the Millennium and Crusader armies are fighting and Anderson is having a stand-off with Seras, everyone abruptly halts when they hear the opening to "Ready To Die" suddenly start playing in the distance... as that's being blasted at full volume from the speakers on an aircraft carrier being sailed up the Thames River by Alucard. Everyone stops and stares in shock and fear (except Integra and Seras) because Alucard is back.
  • Happened thrice to the Producer in Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, upon hearing that the villains of John Wick kill the eponymous character's dog (followed by "...OK, some people better die for that."), that the climactic battle of Twilight Breaking Dawn was just a vision ("...what are we doing here, man?") and James Bond dying in No Time to Die ("...what?!").

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond, when Terry calls Ra's al Ghul a psychopath, which results in a horrified stare by Talia — which is a hint that Ra's al Ghul had possessed Talia's body and would have every reason to be horrified at the notion that people see him as a psychopath. If Terry called Ra's al Ghul in front of the real Talia, she would have given him a Death Glare and more due to Talia's loyalty to Ra's al Ghul.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: For a couple of videos (Vanilla Ice and Milli Vanilli), all they could do is stare in horror for several seconds before wordlessly changing the channel.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): Doctor Psycho calls Wonder Woman a c**t. The onlookers gasp, the BGM stops, a dog stops peeing, birds stop flying, and the entire Earth stops spinning. All of that happens again later on when he throws that same word at Giganta, his ex-wife, during a talk show.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Krabby Land" following Mr. Krabs' cheap presentation of Krabby the Clown (just dressing as a clown for no more than ten seconds and going into his office), we are treated to a shot of SpongeBob and all the children in silent jaw-dropping shock.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Fugitive", several Kaminoans and droids have silent Oh, Crap! reactions when Fives beats up four other clones and a Kaminoan in the space of a minute after learning he's in danger of Laser-Guided Amnesia. They don't even try to stop him when he runs off.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Speaking of "Spark of Rebellion" — everyone whose reaction we see gets this trope when Kanan breaks out his lightsaber during the Kessel rescue, and Agent Kallus and the stormtroopers specifically get the "horror" variant.
    • "Always Two There Are": Kanan's reaction at the end to learning of the existence of two more Inquisitors.
    • "Zero Hour": Kallus' reaction when Grand Admiral Thrawn reveals he knows he's The Mole. Ultimately, the only comeback Kallus can come up with is "You Talk Too Much!!"
  • Steven Universe: In "The Answer", when Ruby and Sapphire accidentally fuse into Garnet for the first time, the Homeward Gems in their presence do this, as a fusion between two different types of Gems had never been done and is strictly taboo.

    Real Life 
  • When NBA player Kermit Washington punched Rudy Tomjanovich in a game hard enough to leave him in a pool of his own blood, the entire arena descended into what one observer described as "the loudest silence you've ever heard."
  • When American gymnast Rebecca Bross dislocated her kneecap on vault at the 2011 National Championships, the arena went deathly silent; all anyone could hear were the agonized screams of an eighteen-year-old girl. Those who were there describe it as one of the most haunting scenes they'd ever witnessed.
  • According to first-hand accounts, this happened in Hiroshima after the Atom Bomb was dropped. Survivors mention how in the first few minutes there was no screaming or crying, the survivors who were able to escape from buildings that had been destroyed quietly clambered out of the wreckage and shuffled away. This includes many people who had been gravely wounded and were writhing in pain.


  • In the "Paramount Mountain Expedition" short "Ice Bridge" from CBS All Access, Michael Burnham tells her little group they need to lose some weight. All goes fine until Diane Lockhart tells someone he might need to remove his shirt. Lt. Dangle jumps in and happily decides to do so, prompting Burnham to give a look that says "...uhhh..."

    Comic Books 
  • Diabolik: Once in a while the creators drop an episode to remind everyone that in this series everything can happen and Anyone Can Die. When they do, reader and character are left too stunned to speak. Some examples:
    • In "Mocking Diabolik", this happens thrice: first when Diabolik and Eva learn that Ginko has moved the gold statues to the museum without Diabolik even realizing, then when they learns how he did (with Eva trying to not laugh at the sheer audacity), and then, as the final panel of the issue when Ginko learns of how Diabolik was listening on him (Ginko knew Diabolik was listening on him and used this knowledge in his plan, but he didn't expect that Diabolik would bug the last round of his gun).
    • In "A Killer for Ginko", we get Altea and Ginko's break-up. Something considered impossible.
    • In "The Return of Gustavo Garian", this happens when Gustavo reveals who hired the hitmen who had (apparently) killed Diabolik: himself. Diabolik (disguised as Ginko) and the readers were left speechless... Then Gustavo revealed he was terminally ill and the killers were supposed to kill him too had they been still alive, asked who he believed Ginko for his gun, and then he killed himself. Mind you, Gustavo was the oldest recurring character and the first named character to appear, even introducing Diabolik to the reader, so him being used to prove that in this series Anyone Can Die surprised even the oldest and most jaded readers.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!:
    • After hearing All Might's blunt opinion of him, Izuku is virtually catatonic for several seconds before he breaks into inconsolable tears.
      Midoriya just stood there, looking at nothing. Listening to nothing. Thinking about nothing. Then he cried once more, and no one was able to stop his tears from flowing.
    • He has this reaction again after meeting a Virtual Ghost of his biological father, learning that he's the last member of his species, and watching the destruction of Krypton.
  • Mare Do Well: The group of mooks Rainbow was fighting went silent as soon as Tarnish showed up. It was so quiet that "[a] mouse fart would have been deafening."
  • Kara of Rokyn: Kara walks into a dressing room and bumps into her scantily-clad rival wrestler, fully intent on seducing her. Kara's jaw drops and she needs several seconds to find her voice.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: Kara and her boyfriend Dev-Em are left speechless when Kara's father asks during one dinner when they are getting married (something they hadn't considered at all).
  • Amazing Fantasy: Bakugou gapes when he sees Izuku destroy a desk with his newly developed Super Strength. That shock quickly turns into rage as he prepares to throttle Izuku for "hiding his Quirk".
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Jaune announces on live television that he is the Crown Prince of the Grimm, the nation of Atlas has kidnapped his fiance Yang Xiao-Long and she is pregnant with their child, and Jaune will destroy Atlas if she is not freed. Cut to the island of Patch, where an entire bar of people are staring at Taiyang Xiao-Long in utter silence.
    Bartender: So... a grandfather, huh? Congratulations.
    Taiyang: [faints]
  • Distortions (Symphogear): During a live press conference, Hibiki is asked a question from an obvious tabloid writer about a possible relationship between her and her childhood friend Miku. She, without even giving the question a second thought, says that are in a relationship to the entire world. The silence is so resounding and long that Hibiki actually wonders if she said something wrong.
  • Forging a Better Future: During the trial of the members of Tempest, their defense lawyer claims they are compassionate people who sought to only kill criminals and the corrupt. This is met with absolute silence, as everyone stares at him in stunned disbelief.
  • From Here to Who Knows Where: While being persuaded to go on a road trip, Echo brings up a deceased Boov named Mila, who was erased for making too many mistakes. Hearing her name instantly shuts Oh up for a moment, shocked that Echo would say that so bluntly.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Buddy Holly Story contains a scene where Buddy and his band go onstage at the Apollo and are met with stunned disbelief at these four white hillbillies. The crowd is quickly won over when the music starts playing.
  • In Clerks II, this happens after God-fearing momma's boy Elias explains to Randall that the reason he's never had sex with his girlfriend is that all girls have a "pussy troll" that prevents them from having pre-marital sex by biting off the tip of any offending penis. Randall, a veteran snarker, is absolutely speechless.
  • In Godzilla (2014), the entirety of the population within the airport in Honolulu is screaming as one of the M.U.T.O.s is rampaging and destroying airliners. The second Godzilla's foot appears, they promptly shut the hell up, even the music.
  • Meet the Feebles has this happen as the audience reaction to The Sodomy Song, which is about what it sounds like.
  • Star Wars: There is an anecdote about A New Hope (then known simply as Star Wars) in America. When people saw the first spaceship come into view, they cheered. When they saw the second one (the Imperial Star Destroyer, which never seemed to end in that shot), they all went silent.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agent Sitwell is left momentarily speechless as he finishes watching Captain America beat up the entire STRIKE team that had him cornered in an elevator, escape the other team that was positioned just outside and then jump out the elevator. The first thing he says after he sees him get up from crashing to the ground, having fallen from the middle of a skyscraper, and start making a run for the garage is "Are you kidding me?!"
  • Black Sheep (1996): During MTV's "Rock The Vote" event for the Washington election, a stoned Mike Donnelly gets mistaken for his brother, gubernatorial candidate Al Donnelly. He soon wows the crowd with an energetic speech urging them to support Al. However, everything immediately goes wrong when, upon the reggae group he was smoking weed with, he screams "KILL WHITEY!", which immediately silences the audience.

  • The Hunger Games: The crowd's first response to Katniss volunteering to take her sister's place and become District 12's female tribute.
  • Liv in the Future: Alix is briefly unable to find the words to react to Liv’s over-the-top plan to infiltrate a morgue.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "Forest of the Dead", the Doctor is momentarily stunned when River whispers something into his ear. What did she say that struck him speechless? His real name, which he doesn't tell anyone.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: One of Miriel's Praetorian Guards tries to stop Elendil from entering the throne room but is rendered utterly speechless once he sees Galadriel behind Elendil and just allows them to go.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the first time that Gul Dukat sees Kira Nerys pregnant, he snarks about what a lucky man her boyfriend Shakaar is. Kira then tells him that Shakaar's not the father - Chief O'Brien is. (She leaves out the part where she's acting as a surrogate for Keiko O'Brien, who was injured during the pregnancy and thus couldn't carry the baby to term.) Dukat is left utterly speechless.

  • The Sex Pistols' final concert in Winterland, USA. After their rendition of the horribly tasteless "Belsen was a Gas" the audience sat in stunned silence for a few seconds before applauding.
  • Truth in Television: A particularly moving piece of music gets silence from the house. Can be a powerful, powerful compliment. On one occasion a clap began, but most of the house didn't join in, and it subsided again (it was a tribute to a dead member of the orchestra, and applause just didn't seem appropriate).

    New Media 
  • Long ago, there was a YKTTW entry with this name which described the way dramatic arguments in shows would end: one person would raise their voice and deliver a final cutting line, then simply walk out, leaving the other in stunned silence.
  • On the stupidity side, someone really doesn't understand how memory works (courtesy of Not Always Right).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This occurred when Bruno Sammartino dropped the title after a historic reign that lasted just shy of eight years, to Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden. Witnesses say that one could hear a pin drop after the referee made the three count, and Sammartino himself claims that the room was so silent, he thought he had gone deaf.
  • Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling's English commentary team of suggested the crowds tended to be relatively silent during matches, particularly the garbage matches, due to being stunned at what they were seeing.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had this reaction when R-Truth came out to the ring dressed as a Confederate soldier. Austin, a man who obviously never aspired to any political correctness, clearly recognized the perversity of a black man dressed up as a Confederate soldier. Considering everything that's happened in his career, that says a lot about the skit.
  • Cheerleader Melissa had been on every SHIMMER volume, consistently coming ever so close to a title belt, gaining crowd sympathy in the process. After seven years she beat Madison Eagles, regarded by some to be the best wrestler in the world, for her first SHIMMER title, only to lose it two days later after Sweet Saraya ambushed her before their match. It was a bit of a buzz kill.
  • WrestleMania 30. Just these five words: Brock Lesnar Broke The Streak. The entire arena was silent, and one fan's reaction even went viral; the referee and Paul Heyman even played up being shocked (or, at least, that was what it was thought at the time; as it turns out, no one but Lesnar, 'Taker, Vince, Hunter, and Steph knew the ending of the match, so their reactions were legitimate), and there was a lengthy delay before Brock's theme music hit, just to let things sink in. The crowd was virtually dead for the rest of the night, only perking up once Daniel Bryan won.

    Two years later at WrestleMania 32, both the crowd and even THE UNDERTAKER had a mixture of this reaction and the Stunned Horror variation after Shane McMahon actually willingly jumped off the 20ft Cell in their "Hell in A Cell" match, trying to elbow drop Taker, only for said wrestler to roll out of the way in time. While the crowd did jump at the jump itself, the silence came as medics came to Shane, wondering if he finally managed to kill himself, all while Taker watched, eyes wide at the sight. Keep in mind, Shane's wife and three sons (The latter three having come out with him during Shane's entrance) was in the crowd in the front row.
  • When Jay Briscoe beat Michael Elgin in his own hometown of Toronto for the Ring of Honor World Title at ROH All Star Extravaganza VI, the viewers didn't know what to make of it. There was some halfhearted cheering and booing but most in attendance simply could not decide which emotion to express other than sheer disbelief, which translated to silence. Thankfully, the main event was next and the crowd was soon fired back up to see reDRagon vs The Young Bucks.
  • On October 22, 2018 Roman Reigns of all wrestlers, caught everyone off guard when he revealed that he had to relinquish his Universal Title because of leukemia and that he had been fighting it for eleven years. By the time he revealed that the disease had returned, a person could have heard a pin drop in that arena. Doubles as a real-life example because he explicitly broke Kayfabe to make this announcement.
  • Hell in a Cell 2022 had Cody Rhodes begin the match by removing his Badass reveal his torn pec that was completely bruised and purple like a zombie bit him. The crowd was completely shocked at the severity of the injury.


    Video Games 
  • This classic review of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing shows Alex Navarro (then working for Gamespot) losing his mind over the game's pre-pre-Alpha status. After sitting in front of his computer for two minutes unable to find anything to say about it, he eventually walks out of the GS office and flops onto the street as if to say, "Please kill me now."
  • Devil May Cry 5: Nero is stunned into silence for a few seconds when Dante reveals that Vergil (half of whom was also the Big Bad of the game) is Nero's father.
  • Mass Effect 2: At one point, fast-talking alien scientist Mordin performs a filk of the Major-General's Song from The Pirates of Penzance. Shepard stares at him in absolute stunned disbelief for quite some time. Doubly hilarious because the Mass Effect series is notorious for its Paused Interrupts, and it looks like that's what's happening - until Mordin coughs at the end of the line.

    Web Animation 
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: The Emperor has a moment of shocked silence after Kitten's Little "No" of defiance.
  • RWBY: When Ozpin tries to explain that he has reasons for keeping secrets, Yang insists that they're in this together so he can share the truth with them because they'll never turn their backs on him. Ozpin demands to know if they really think that this was his first betrayal, and everything stops. The camera close-up jerks back to a long-shot of the entire group, the heroes stop arguing with him, they stop walking and even the music stops. Only the wind howls and the snow swirls in the silence that follows. Ozpin then turns to face them, revealing that another had once said the exact same words Yang had just stated; the heroes remain frozen and utterly silent.
    Yang: Look, we're supposed to be in this together! You can trust us! We're not going to turn our backs on you.
    Ozpin: Do you really think Leo was the first?! That he didn't say those exact same words to me?!
  • RWBY Chibi: Both Team RWBY and Team JNPR suffer this when Nora goes on a fourth-wall-breaking rant after Pyrrha, who died at the end of Volume 3 of the main series, returns alive and well.

    Web Comics 
  • After Tanna's rant at Rolan in Ears for Elves came out wrong, the various Elven ladies are [shocked into silence at the idea of her being pushed to the ground by a high-born male elf. This is indicated in the comic by the artist not drawing their mouths in the Beat Panel.
  • El Goonish Shive:
  • Stunned silence variety appears in Something*Positive after a couple of musicals/plays the main characters put on. One of them ended with the audience pulling out their lighters and setting fire to the place.
  • The Order of the Stick: When the Order attacks the High Priest of Hel, the Priest was well prepared for them. He was not prepared for an advance force of forest animals riding stampeding technicolor giraffes.

    Web Original 
  • In his review of the cheesy 80s movie Ragewar, Dr. Insano gets a look that combines annoyance with weariness when he learns that this movie is the origin of the phrase "I reject your reality and substitute my own."
  • Dream High School has a ton of these, mostly from Corliss.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Shenron does this in Dead Zone Abridged when Garlic Jr. wishes for immortality, because he can't remember the last time someone "nutted up and asked for that."
  • What happens in Red vs. Blue when Washington discovers that, unbelievably, the Alpha AI was right alongside them the entire time, the revelation causes a huge minute of momentous silence between them both, the silence being nearly deafening during the scene after the realization that truly embodies this trope exquisitely...
    • Also happens to Felix when he realizes the fight at the radio tower was a set-up for Tucker to pull an Engineered Public Confession on him. Tucker lampshades that it's the first time he's seen Felix in a state of Sarcasm Failure.
  • Todd in the Shadows has at least two big cases, in "Deuces" to the line "Like Tina did to Ike in the limo, it finally hit me" (along with missing the point, rapping this when the main artist was accused of domestic abuse is very inadequate), and Funstyle to the line "Uh oh, you're being a peñis\Colada, that is" (Todd proceeds to do a wrestling tapout in his piano).

    Western Animation 
  • The page picture comes from Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Beach", as the response to Azula's idea of appropriate romantic dialogue with a guy she just met at a party.
  • In Frisky Dingo, Wendell—who is objectively insane—stuns Killface into silence with his...unorthodox way of accepting a compliment:
    Killface: Wendell, you've outdone yourself!
    Wendell: Well, now I know how Diego Rivera must have felt when he was banging Frida Kahlo!
    Wendell: Tea-baggin' the unibrow.
    [Extended Beat]
  • In the first episode of Gravity Falls, this is Mabel's reaction to her first Guy of the Week Norman being five gnomes stacked up on each other. Notably, this is the only time in the series we see Mabel at a complete loss for words.
  • Hey Arnold!: In "Arnold Betrays Iggy", Arnold has found out a secret about Iggy, and Sid and Stinky badger him to tell them what it was. Arnold refuses to break his promise not to tell, simply saying that it's something he wears, and Sid quips "It's wasn't like he was wearing bunny pajamas or something". This leaves Arnold struck silent, cluing them that they guessed correct.
  • Kaeloo: This is the others' typical reaction to Stumpy's stupidity, usually accompanied by a Sweat Drop. In Mr. Cat's case, this is also accompanied by a Twitchy Eye.
  • Lite Sprites: Meadow suggesting they teach a slug to do The Worm gets this response. She remembers it differently.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has two examples:
    • "The Puppeteer": Hawk Moth remains paralyzed in shock for about a minute before shouting it's impossible when Ladybug defeats the titular villain against apparently impossible odds (the Puppeteer having taken control of three past villains and Cat Noir, and already having the doll she needs to do the same to Ladybug).
    • "Santa Claws": Ladybug has this reaction when she sees the Santa Claus who she had accidentally accused to be an Akumatized villain was turned into an Akumatized villain literally seconds after she looked the other way. Could have been horror, as it was her fault, except she didn't get over the surprise in time before she was attacked.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: The audience, especially Jackie and Marco, when Star publicly confesses her feelings to Marco. Except for Pony Head, who brags that she "called it".
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Shroud of Darkness", Kanan is absolutely stunned to realize he was just knighted by the Grand Inquisitor's ghost.

    Real Life 
  • Subverted with Ludwig van Beethoven at the premiere of his Symphony No.9: He thought he was getting this from the crowd. Then one of the sopranos turned him around, and he saw he was getting a standing ovation, which he couldn't hear because he'd gone deaf by that point.
  • Used effectively by honor guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. If someone/a group of people is disrespecting the tomb or area around it in any way, they will break from their walk and address them directly in a loud shout, "It is requested that everyone maintains a level of silence and respect!"
  • Reportedly, this was the reaction of the crowd at the end of the final match of the 1950 World Cup. The Brazilian team had been heavily favoured to win, so when Uruguay came from behind to win 2-1, the spectators (practically all Brazilian, since Brazil was hosting and the match was in Rio) were so shocked they couldn’t say anything. FIFA president Jules Rimet said that as he left the luxury box to prepare for the awarding ceremony, everyone was screaming and jubilant, but by the time he hit the pitch, it was a gravely silence. To this day the match is often called the Maracanaço—roughly "The Agony of Maracanã" (after the great stadium where the match was played).


Guess Who's Coming to Marry

Aunt Janice brings home her boyfriend and the family reacts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / StunnedSilence

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