Columbus: I've actually been meaning to ask you, have you been to Columbus, because I've been trying to...
Wichita: Have you never played the quiet game?
Children (and some teens and adults) are naturally talkative. The Fun Personified often shares this trait.
For children, it's because they're learning so much about the world, and their minds are racing as they process all the information they encounter. For older people, this may also be true, or they may come from a background where they wanted to talk but were shut down from being able to do so. Or maybe they just like the sound of their own voice.
Unfortunately, this tendency to talk, non-stop, stream of consciousness and rapid fire, is annoying, frustrating and aggravating to many people — among them the Child Hater and the Badly Battered Babysitter. Often such Elders will resort in desperation, when they feel nothing else has worked to get someone to stop talking for a minute — they propose The Quiet Game.
The idea of proposing it as a game is supposed to make it "fun", but the talkative character rarely considers it so. Proposing it as a game is also supposed to be preferable to the honest and direct route of just saying "please be quiet for a little while," or exploding with "SHUT UP ALREADY". The general outcome of this ruse, however, results in the one[s] asked to play the game either blithely missing the point, or seeing it for what it is, refusing to play along, or playing along only to declare instantaneous defeat, much to the dismay of the person trying to get a little quiet. Part of the problem is that there's rarely any actual prize, meaning that the only incentive to win the game is the lure of winning itself. For the person who just wants to talk, the lure of simply talking is probably stronger.
This may also be phrased as "No Talking Contest" if there is more than one person who the other one wants to be quiet.
- In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, the Shadow Games Yami Yugi would challenge the despicable villain of the issue to could be anything. Consider it Early-Installment Weirdness; Duel Monsters being the center of the universe didn't come along for some time, but this era suffers from No Export for You. He's called "king of games", plural, for a reason, and simply not being the first to make a noise was used once. (The bad guy's heartbeat as it raced when anticipating victory caused him to lose. This means Yami got to inflict a Cool and Unusual Punishment — in this case, the bad guy's own heartbeat became deafeningly loud to him alone, in punishment for what he'd done earlier in the issue.)
- In Young Justice during a game of Truth Or Dare, Impulse is dared to keep quiet for 5 minutes. He barely lasts 5 seconds.
- In a strip of Get Fuzzy, Rob gets tired of Bucky and Satchel's chatter on a road trip and says, "Let's play the quiet game."
- In I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC, Captain America gets Deadpool to shut up by handing him a phone and saying it's for him. When Deadpool can't hear anyone on the other end, he responds, "Oh, yeah? Well, two can play the quiet game!"
- The Contest is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic based on a throwaway line from the episode "Stare Master", in which Fluttershy tries to play the quiet game with the Cutie Mark Crusaders and claims to be world champ. The fic is based on the premise that Fluttershy actually is world champion of the Quiet Game and follows her through the world finals as she defends her crown.
- One My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fancomic has Fluttershy telling the Cutie Mark Crusaders she's the champ of the Quiet Game... only to think of Big Macintosh and Octavia (the latter of whom had not yet had a line at the time the comic was written) and admit she's really only third.
- In Up!, Carl proposes this game to Russell. Russell replies that his Mom loves that game.
- In Zombieland, Witchita proposes it to Columbus, who proceeds to talk anyway.
- At the end of Judy Moody & Stink: The Big Bad Blackout, there is a list of fun things to do during a big, bad blackout. This is actually #7.
7. Play the Quiet Game. See who can last the longest without a peep, squeak or giggle.
- In one episode of Friends, Phoebe is dating a guy who is getting obnoxious about how passionate he is about everything, so she suggests that they play the quiet game for a little while. After about ten seconds, he says, "I lose! Let's play Jenga."
- In the premiere of the eleventh season of the U.S. Hell's Kitchen, one of the men suggests this as they are all forced to ride from Las Vegas to Hell's Kitchen on a school bus as punishment, and one of them just can't seem to stop spouting strategy advice.
- McKay proposed this in an episode of Stargate Atlantis.
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Silence". Colonel Taylor bets a talkative man named Tennyson half a million dollars that he can't stay quiet for an entire year. Tennyson accepts the bet and spends a year locked up in a glass cage. After Tennyson wins the bet, Taylor says that he's bankrupt and can't pay up. The Twist Ending? Before Tennyson went into the cage he had surgery to render himself mute so he couldn't lose the bet.
- Will proposed this to Nathan in an episode of Will & Grace, with the prize being a cookie.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage convinces Fighter to play the quiet game. For a few months' worth of pages, Fighter is completely silent, and Black Mage simply forgets that he's there. When Fighter finally does speak, he proceeds to rapidly say everything that he wanted to say during the game.
- Pebble and Wren: In one strip, one of Wren's dads tells her and Pebble to see who can be quiet the longest. Wren isn't falling for it, but Pebble decides that he wins.
- Bob's Burgers: At the end of "Food Truckin'", Bob proposes this game after the family's food truck has exploded, during the long walk back to civilization. Louise is very proud to be clever enough to win the game - and promptly exclaims as much.
- When Daria was roped into a babysitting gig, Jane told her that if the kids started driving her crazy, to tell them that she knows a great game called Cemetery. They would have to lie on the ground and pretend they were dead. The first to move, or make a sound, loses. Daria ends up using it at one point.
- In "The Tooth About Jack and Jill" from Goldie & Bear, Goldie proposes this to Jack and Jill, who are sleeping over at Bear's with her and Bear, so that she can explain something very important, about the need for everyone to get to sleep that night so that the Tooth Fairy can come for Bear's tooth. It's basically ignored as they pepper her with questions about the Tooth Fairy.
Bear: They're never gonna go to sleep!
- Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse try this on Daisy Duck in the Mickey Mouse Works cartoon "Daisy's Road Trip". Daisy wins after launching them screaming out of the car and back again.
- In "Stare Master" on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy proposes this as a game to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, telling them that she's a champion. They all immediately say that they've lost.
- In "Olivia and Her Alien Brother" from Olivia, when Olivia and Ian argue in the car on their way to the planetarium, Olivia's dad says they should try to see who can be quiet the longest. The game gets ruined because although they're quiet, they make faces at each other, which causes little brother William to cry, which causes Ian to speak to blame Olivia for doing it.
- A variation in the Peppa Pig episode "Chatterbox". Peppa's friends berate her for talking too much, so she asks her mother if she does talk too much. Mummy Pig says that Peppa is indeed "a bit of a chatterbox", so Peppa clams up. Her friends decide to make it into a competition, which Peppa loses after someone describes the kids as "playing at being quiet", to which she retorts that it's work, not play.
- Raven pulls this on Melvin, Timmy and Teether in the Teen Titans episode where she has to babysit them.