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The Singing Mute

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The Speechless are not always totally incapable of making sound. When not grunting, howling, using sign language or tap-dancing on morse code, they often obfuscate things when they reach for a microphone and put on a show with their fantastic tenor.

When the medium in question involves the use of musical numbers, mute characters will often break out into song along with everybody else. This is never really weird (because if everyone breaking out in song and dance in the middle of the street isn't weird, why should this be?) as the songs they sing often represent a more internal narrative that only the audience can really hear, interpret and be aware of.

Compare to Cute Mute and The Voiceless.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cromartie High School has Freddie, who is very strongly implied to somehow be deceased Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Throughout the series, he never utters a word, but he has been shown singing (though we still never get to hear him).
  • Is This A Zombie? features Eucliwood Hellscythe, a powerful necromancer who's very being contains so much destructive magic stored inside her that any sound she utters has destructive results. She wears heavy platemail just to contain the magic. One of the final episodes in the first season saw all of her magic get transferred into resident Magical Girl Haruna, which allowed Eu to sing to her heart's content.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Angry Birds Movie: Terence only dialogues in the whole movies are grunts and...a brief instance where he's singing.
  • In [[Blue's Big Musical Movie, Snail belts out in a comically deep male voice "I just want to be me!" during a song number.
  • The infamous animated film The Littlest Light on the Christmas Tree had a scene where the otherwise mute titular lightbulb ends up breaking into song, with a decent-sounding male singing voice to boot!
  • A Monster in Paris: The titular monster, FrancĹ“ur is frequently singing during the many musical numbers of the movies, but outside of that, he's unable to speak in anything other than insect-like chirps. It's implied he needs music to be able to speak.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Austin Powers in: Goldmember was originally going to include a musical number "What's it all about, Austin?" in which Dr Evil's usually mute clone, Mini-Me, sang along with the rest of the cast. The song was cut from the final version of the film, but included as a bonus feature on the DVD.
  • The Devil's Carnival features the Hobo Clown and the Painted Doll, both silent characters who communicate through light pantomime during the events of the movie. Both also have solo songs that, in Greek Chorus fashion, wrap up their respective sinners' subplots.
  • The film adaptation of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile depicts Lyle as singing with Shawn Mendes's voice. When not singing, he cannot make any vocalizations whatsoever. Parodied at the very end of the movie when the same pet shop where Lyle was found also has a beatboxing snake.
  • Implied in the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business, in which the four brothers (including mute Harpo) are heard singing barbershop from inside four barrels.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the titular Rocky is portrayed as mute (with the exception with some unintelligible grunting) when he is not singing. This is in contrast to the original stage musical where he actually could talk.
  • Elisa in The Shape of Water is a mute who has a deep love for Hollywood's classic movie musicals. In an Imagine Spot of hers she is transported from her kitchen table to a black-and-white movie set where she sings like a diva and dances with the Amphibian Man.
  • The Oompa-Loompas in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Played straight in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake until the ending reveals that one of them was Narrator All Along.

    Literature 
  • In The Elenium, the Cute Mute foundling girl "Flute" switches to singing wordlessly when she drops her signature flute in the ocean by mistake. Subverted when she reveals that she was always able to speak and is the child-goddess Aphrael in human form.
  • The picture book Hallelujah Handel, and the album of the same name from the Classical Kids series, tell the fictional story of George Frideric Handel befriending an orphan boy named Thomas, who never speaks, but expresses his emotions by singing Handel's music with an angelic voice. This turns out to be the result of his traumatic past, and in the end he finally speaks.

    Live-Action Series 
  • Mr. Darling's sons in The Andy Griffith Show can belt out a really good song on most days, but generally respond to most attempts to get a word out of them with awkward blank stares.
  • Played with in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Mrs. Hernandez is The Silent Bob for the first season, never saying a word, though people around her do react like she's said something. The show is a musical and she does participate in some songs... but her solos are still silent and she's given subtitles so it is the only time the audience can hear her "talk."
  • Played with on Galavant, where the monks featured in the show have taken a vow of singing instead of silence.
  • Sort of referenced/averted by Jeopardy! in a Final Jeopardy question early in the Trebeck era. The question asked how many characters in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sang "Hi Ho, Hi Ho". All of the contestants answered with seven, but Alex pointed out that the answer was actually six because Dopey couldn't talk.
  • The Muppets:
    • On The Muppet Show, many Muppets who are otherwise The Unintelligible (such as Beaker, the Swedish Chef and Camilla the chicken) will be seen singing along during musical numbers, although of course their voices aren't audible.
    • On Sesame Street, characters that otherwise don't speak will sometimes be seen singing in crowd scenes, such as Sully, the Two-Headed Monster, and Frazzle.
    • During crossovers, Sprocket from Fraggle Rock will occasionally be seen singing along, even though he's a realistic dog puppet who can only bark.
  • In his official appearance on America's Got Talent, Puddles never actually speaks a word, instead miming gestures before catching everybody off guard with his singing voice.

    Jokes 
  • One joke involves a mute boy (in some versions he simply has a severe stutter) who can still sing very well. One day he takes his beloved dog, named "DooDah", out for a walk. When DooDah falls into an abandoned well and begins drowning, the boy runs to get help, but finds he cannot get anyone's attention due to his speech impediment. Fed up, he stands in the middle of the busy street and belts out an improvised tune that gets everyone's attention:
    Mute Boy: [to the tune of "Camptown Races"] Guess who's drowning in the well today! DooDah! DooDah!

    Theatre 
  • Lurch in the Addams Family Musical Adaptation sticks with his canon dialect of only grunting until the final number, when he sings his first ever words.
  • A partial example in the stage version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo is deaf, and while he's not mute, he can only speak a few words at a time in a guttural tone. But when he expresses his inner emotions in his (non-diagetic) songs, he becomes clear-voiced and fully articulate.
  • In the stage version of The Little Mermaid, after giving her voice to Ursula, Ariel still sings in the songs "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" and "If Only." Like Quasimodo's songs in the Hunchback example, these are non-diagetic songs that aren't really being sung in-universe, but express Ariel's inner thoughts and emotions.

    Video Games 
  • Jazztronauts: The Singer is completely mute, and "speaks" with an electronic tablet, yet is shown singing on two occasions. Tiny problem: The first song, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, has a female singer, while the second, Que Chevere, has a male one, so either the singer is a masterful mimic, or the former song (the latter being the game's theme) was chosen to maintain the Singer's androgyny and throw off fan theories.
  • In the PC game Stay Tooned!, Scoops the dog can only bark and yip like a real dog - except during his solo musical numbers, where he suddenly busts out a smooth Sinatra-esque baritone.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in RWBY Chibi, when the villains form a band, Neo is the vocalist and is about to sing into her mic before being interrupted.
  • In the 200th episode of Strong Bad Email, the usually mute Poopsmith is shown singing the celebration song. And he's voiced by John Linnell, to boot.

    Web Video 
  • Averted and parodied in To Boldly Flee when Oancitizen gives away their position when he joins in the "Distraction" musical number when he was disguised as the mute Non.
    Zodd: Destroy that fantastic tenor! [Oancitizen gives a bow before running away.]

    Western Animation 
  • In the 100th episode special of Blue's Clues Snail is seen singing together with the other characters. As mentioned above in Blue's Big Musical Movie, her voice is noticeably deeper than you would expect.
  • King Cobra in the Secret Snake Club in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy never talks on his own, the only time when he ever hear his voice (aside from when he gives out pained grunts when "P.E." is ever mentioned) being when he sings the tale of Shnisissugah with his guitar and harmonica.
  • Looney Tunes: Michigan J. Frog from One Froggy Evening is usually a regular, silent frog, except when he starts singing and dancing.
  • The My Gym Partner's a Monkey Musical Episode has Jake make a wish that forces everyone to sing and dance against their will, including the usually silent Horace, who Lampshades this.
    "I don't ever talk, but now I don't have a choice.
    It's really quite awful, 'cause I don't like my voice."
  • Greg's frog in Over the Garden Wall suddenly bursts into song in episode six, but remains silent before and after. Though the ending also reveals that he was the Narrator All Along.
  • In-Universe in South Park—the fourth-graders are putting on a play based on The Miracle Worker. During the actual performance, the professional actor that they hired as an advisor has to play Helen Keller in place of the absent Timmy, and spontaneously starts singing about the pain of not being able to communicate with anyone.
    Jeffrey Maynard: I cannot hear what they are saying. I cannot tell them how I feel—
    Cartman: (backstage) What the hell is he doing? Helen Keller isn't supposed to sing!
  • SuperKitties In Roboctopus, the Cute Mute Otto reveals a surprisingly romantic singing voice when joining Bitsy's song about feeling left out. Even she gets surprised at this reveal mid-song.
    Bitsy: You can talk?!
  • The titular characters of Tom and Jerry appear to sing with mass crowds even though they usually never talk. Although it's not made clear if they're actually mute or just prefer not to talk.

 
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Puddles

When holding a conversation, Puddles speaks in physical gestures before blowing everyone away with his singing voice.

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