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''"W-w-w-w-was th-th-this th-th-the f-f-f-face..."
— Wannabe Actor Wabash the Tailor at the beginning of Shakespeare in Love

"Two households! Both alike in dignity, in Fair Verona where we set our scene..."
— Triumphant Actor Wabash the Tailor at the climax of Shakespeare in Love

A character has a stutter or a stammer, and it affects how he communicates with others... badly. But then, usually at some key dramatic moment, his stammer disappears and he is able to speak with surprisingly smooth and eloquent diction.

This is often Truth in Television, as many stutterers don't stutter at all (or do it much less) if they're acting, singing, or talking about something they know well.

See also Porky Pig Pronunciation, Alternate Catchphrase Inflection, and Delusions of Eloquence. Can overlap with O.O.C. Is Serious Business if other characters consider their unhindered speech unusual.


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  • An advert for Malibu had two beautiful women in a nightclub turning down the advances of various Casanova Wannabe types. A nervous man with a stutter tries his luck by asking if he can buy then a ma-ma-ma— before smoothly segueing into them Duet Bonding over the delights of drinking Malibu.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989): Abel never stutters when he is telling someone a story.
  • Starman (DC Comics): Nash stops stuttering when her brother is killed and she becomes the heir to the Mist legacy. When asked how she stopped, Nash claimed that she was "someone else".
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): When Byrna is truly furious her stutter all but disappears, as is shown when she volunteers to join Villainy Inc. She is understandably pissed at being imprisoned in a foreign country when all her crimes happened within the United States and strapped into a mind washing device that forced her to obey her captors and tried to force her to be happy about it. She's also the most clear example of the Aphrodite Girdle's failing, as she was able to fight off all the effects but obedience and secretly rebuild and improve on her arsenal and armor while imprisoned on Reformation Island.
    • Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia: Danny speaks in a stutter for most of the story but when she reveals what happened to her sister and her murders of the men responsible she speaks fluidly.

    Comic Strips 
  • Toggle, a character in Doonesbury, has difficulty speaking after suffering brain damage in Iraq. He usually loses the stutter when Gary Trudeau wants to use him to make a point.
    Toggle: I like it here. People never t...t...t...
    Zonker: Treat you different.
    Toggle: Try to finish my sentences.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Hercules, Hercules stutters throughout the the film, from awkward teenager to adult hero. Particularly seen when Hercules is with Megara.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Shakespeare in Love, where Wabash can barely speak because of his stammer, and is only included in the play because Phillip Henslowe (the "producer") owes him money. But, after a brief false start, he delivers Romeo and Juliet's prologue (and at the end, the epilogue) with perfect eloquence.
  • Subverted in Pan's Labyrinth: Captain Vidal mocks a captured resistance fighter with a noticeable stutter by telling him that he will let him go if he can count to tres without stuttering. The man tries his hardest, makes it past dos, but fails and so gets tortured and executed. Of course, knowing Vidal, it probably wouldn't have ended well even if he had succeeded.
  • Michael Palin's character K-k-k-Ken in A Fish Called Wanda has a terrible stutter throughout the movie. It vanishes when he gets his revenge on Otto, his major adversary, at the end of the movie. Final credits reveal he now works as an MC at Sea World.
    • In an earlier scene, Jamie Lee Curtis' character kisses him while to get some information out of him, leaving him ironically un-tongue-tied for a few moments afterwards.
    • Palin actually did quite a bit of research on how stuttering works in real life and incorporated it into his performance. Ken's stutter is not as bad when he's around people he's comfortable with (Wanda and George), and becomes worse when Otto (whom he can't stand and is scared of) is around.
  • In the John Wayne film The Cowboys, one of the boys on the cattle drive wasn't able to warn them of danger due to a stuttering problem. Wil Anderson (Wayne's character) proceeds to give him a brutal tongue-lashing, and the boy stutteringly calls Anderson a "s-s-s-s-s-son-uh-uh-uh-of-a-buh-buh-bitch". Anderson then continues to antagonize the boy until the youth explodes into a verbal tirade of completely stutter-free profanity. Anderson then calmly congratulates him on getting over his stutter, and warns the boy to not get used to cursing at him like that. The boy never stutters once for the rest of the film.
  • Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, after he has sex with Mac's girlfriend, but before Nurse Rachet threatens to tell his mother.
  • King George VI ("Bertie") in The King's Speech spends most of the movie stammering terribly, but his therapist Lionel Logue finds that he doesn't stammer when he's very angry and/or swearing.
  • Primal Fear: Aaron stutters almost every other word. He only stops when he (apparently) takes on the much more aggressive persona of "Roy". In the final scene of the movie, he loses the stutter when he reveals to Marty that it was just a part of the gentle, meek act he was putting on to make himself seem innocent.
  • This is lightly featured in The Amazing Spider-Man as one of the Character Tics of this version of Peter Parker; he falls into stuttering and repetition in most regular situations and especially anything dealing with Gwen Stacy, but once the mask comes on- he immediately switches gears, drops the stutter and picks up the insults.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shows that Rick Dalton has a mild stutter in his personal life (along with a midwest accent) but is otherwise flawless when playing a character on set. He even improvises a line with three alliterative words to great acclaim.
  • Stutterer: Played with. Greenwood, who has a very very bad stutterer, also has an Internet girlfriend named Ellie, and he's scared of what will happen when he meets her in real life. His stutter doesn't go away when he meets her—but it doesn't matter, because she's deaf. And happily, he knows sign language.
  • Hunting and Gathering: Philbert has a pretty bad stutter, which is one of the reasons he mostly avoids contact with people. It turns out that his stutter goes away when he's onstage performing, and he becomes a standup comic.

  • The Alice Network:
    • Eve's stutter completely disappears at times when:
      • she's very angry
      • she's acting (Lampshaded by Charlie)
    • Her stutter isn't as bad when:
      • she's speaking French, her native language
      • she's drunk
    • Inverted: when Eve is very scared, she stutters much more.
  • In the Green Hills series, Stewart stutters badly when speaking English, but not at all when speaking Welsh or singing in any language.
  • Used for The Reveal in the first Harry Potter book. The villain was p-p-p-poor s-s-stuttering Professor Quirrell all along.
  • Bill Denbrough from Stephen King's It. Both Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh remark on the fact that "Stuttering Bill doesn't realize that he doesn't, always".
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "Galley Slave", sociology professor Simon Ninheimer stuttered almost all the way through to the end, where he gives an eloquent speech of the evils of AI proofreaders.
    • Ninheimer doesn't exactly stutter, but he does have a very idiosyncratic speech pattern full of verbalized pauses, giving the impression that he's looking for just the right word to use. One of the other characters comments that if Ninheimer were to say "The sky is ... uh ... blue", you'd feel that he had paused to give due deliberation to the notion that it might be green.
  • Simon has a stutter throughout most of the Discworld novel Equal Rites, but loses it after a run-in with some Cosmic Horrors.
  • Erast Fandorin has a stutter/verbal tic that goes away when he's in disguise/in more Let's Get Dangerous! moments.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture: The termite Dr. Brillat-Beetonin, afflicted with a stutter which makes him into an anxious Nervous Wreck, eventually loses it apparently by sheer force of will and becomes a charismatic rebellious leader. He gains large amounts of power and influence until suddenly an actual crisis strikes the termite mound, at which point he panics and goes back to his old stutter, and presumably old personality.
  • In Wielding A Red Sword, Mym (the future Mars, Incarnation of War) has a bad stutter. He learns that he can overcome this by singing his remarks.
  • A squirrel with a bad stutter in Redwall is told by a group of performers that he should try singing his sentences instead. Not only does it work, he later manages to speak without stuttering as well.
  • In Hilary Mantels historical novel A Place of Greater Safety, Camille Desmoulins loses his stutter when addressing large revolutionary crowds.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lieutenant Reginald Barclay in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager had a few scenes like this. It was usually evidence that he was really certain about what he was saying, but just couldn't get the words out. It wasn't nervousness that caused his stammer, it was his utter comprehension of the danger of the situation they were in.
  • Happens at least once to the title character in the TV version of I, Claudius.
    • The title character of I, Claudius eventually trains himself so that he largely loses his stutter. What makes it fit this well is that he had achieved this well before most people thought he had... and so right up until becoming Roman Emperor, he's still seen as poor, stupid, stuttering C-C-C-Claudius. Soon after, he drops the Obfuscating Stupidity, much to his enemies' dismay.
  • A character on Joan of Arcadia had a terrible stuttering problem, made worse by the fact that he was on the Debate Team. So how did he find his voice? Joan discovers that he has an exceptional talent for finding/gathering evidence and arranging excellent presentations.
  • In the Here Come the Brides episode "A Man and His Magic," the Snake Oil Salesman Merlin is able to cure Jeremy's stutter because Jeremy believes in his powers more than anyone else. When Merlin is exposed as a fraud, Jeremy's faith is shattered, and his stutter returns in full force.

  • Country music singer Mel Tillis had a terrible stutter, except when singing. On one tour, one of his roommates was Johnny Paycheck, who had forgotten his motel key and was trying to re-enter the room through the window. Thinking it was a burglar and wanting to warn the others in the room, Mel literally sang out "There's a robber/Comin' in/Through the window."
    • Tillis was one of the innumerable celebrities to star in Cannonball Run. He actually has to sing some of his lines just to get them out.
  • World famous scat singer Scatman John states in his song "Scatman" that the reason why he sounds so good singing and has trouble stuttering off stage is because he's actually stuttering in his songs. Take a listen.
    Everybody's sayin' that the Scatman stutters
    But doesn't ever stutter when he sings.
    But what you don't know I'm gonna tell you right now,
    That the stutter and the scat is the same thing.
  • The Who's most famous song "My Generation" from My Generation makes use of stuttering while singing, probably the most famous instance in music history:
    Why don't you just all f-f-f-f-fade away?!
  • David Bowie's album Hunky Dory has a song called "Changes", which makes use of a stutter:
  • The "Stutter Rap" by Morris Minor & The Majors.
    Well, no one's ever seen what I mean
    From the age of n-n-n-n-n-n-thirteen
    We've all been caught in a m-m-mouth trap
    So join with us and do the st-st-st-st-st-st-st-stutter rap!
  • In The Hamilton Mixtape, halfway through his part in "My Shot (Rise Up Remix)," Joell Ortiz begins stuttering and saying "um" before every word. After one line of doing that, he busts into his fastest, most boastful part with ease.

  • In the French farce A Flea in Her Ear, one of the characters has something wrong with his palette that makes him stutter. At one point in the play, he gets a prosthesis, and so the stops stuttering at that point. It gets knocked out afterward though and he goes back to stuttering.
  • In We Will Rock You the main character Galileo has a heavy stutter that slowly disappears after meeting Scaramouche to the point where she points it out to him before they sing "Who Wants to Live Forever?".

    Video Games 
  • Street Fighter V introduces Necalli, who displays this in his dialogue. Considering that his design and his name suggest that he's from an ancient civilization (possibly Aztec in origin), this habit could be explained as him trying to adapt to modern language.
    Necalli: [after defeating Vega] You can never ho...hope to cut me with such a feeble blade.
    Necalli: [after defeating Ken] Give u...up. I'll dr...drink your flames.

  • Ava's Demon's Odin usually stutters except when he's lying.
  • Ennui GO!: Calixta naturally speaks with a stutter, but is able to speak normally with effort, and does so in her wrestling Heel persona. It's also revealed that her mother has the same stutter. She normally hides it, but briefly lapses back into it on a single occasion during an argument with her daughter.
  • In Imp, Celina's imp stutters a lot, especially when he's scared or nervous, but speaks normally when calm enough.

    Web Original 
  • A story posted on 4chan tells the tale of an autism caretaker witnessing the infernal badness of Sonic Boom overpowering the speech impediments of one of his students. Behold!

    Western Animation 
  • Rick and Morty: The flashback at the beginning of "Unmortricken" shows that Evil Morty—who has never stammered in his previous appearances set in the present day—did in fact used to have the same anxious, stuttering voice as every other Morty. We see the moment he permanently drops the stutter completely as the first sign that he's snapped after putting up with his Rick's abuse for so long.

    Real Life 
  • As explained above, this can be Truth in Television, as there is a set of circumstances where a stutterer might not be affected (or be less affected) by his condition, such as when acting, singing, talking about very familiar topics, or even when drunk. Note, however, that the whole condition is a complex topic and doesn't affect everybody the same way, to the extent that what helps some cases might not work, or even have the opposite effect, in others (it can also become a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, as stutterers finding themselves in those circumstances might only become more nervous on the notion that they must stop stuttering, ultimately making it all worse). People with this condition often need a lot of trying and failing in order to discover their particular tricks.
  • James Earl Jones has a stutter that is present whenever he is speaking extemporaneously without time to prepare what he is going to say. It is never present when he is performing, unless the character he is playing is specifically designated as a stutterer. In his childhood it was so bad that he didn't speak for three years.
  • Rowan Atkinson has a stutter that he overcomes on screen by over-pronouncing certain letters, most notably his Bs.
  • Nicholas Brendon has a stutter that he says he beats by using a handful of tricks he learned when he was a kid to get around his speech problem. One is turning everything into a song lyric in his head before he says it. Another is pretending that he's actually his twin brother (actor Kelly Donovan) instead of himself, as he never stutters when he's performing.
  • Bruce Willis had a stutter as a teen. He was drawn to acting because he noticed that his stutter disappeared when he was on stage giving a performance.
  • Joe Biden had a stutter growing up. He used various techniques to work around it, to the point that he no longer noticeably stutters when speaking extemporaneously (which, as a politician, he has to do a lot). However, his wording is often a bit clumsy, and the techniques he used to work through his stutter apparently contributed to his bad case of foot-in-mouth syndrome (which, fortunately for him, mostly comes off as endearing rather than embarrassing). He is notably not prone to any kind of stutter, clumsiness, or gaffes when working from a script.
  • Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter when he was younger and one of the reason he likes swearing so much is because swearing helped him get over it. He'll still occasionally swear to himself if he starts stuttering again.

Alternative Title(s): Stuttering Into Eloquence