Follow TV Tropes


Thought Bubble Speech

Go To

Jon: I'll never understand you.
Garfield: Of course you can't. All my lines are in thought bubbles.

Animals can't talk, but they can think, so lines that look like dialog appear in thought bubbles. Sometimes animals can communicate with each other and reply to each other's thought balloons. This means that either the thought balloons are effectively translations of Animal Talk, or all animals are telepathic.

Related to Speech-Impaired Animal, Nearly Normal Animal and Animal Talk.

This is a comic trope — the film equivalent would be to sub-title an animal.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: Hot Dog, and later Jellybean in various
  • Deadpool: A variation, as the thought bubbles themselves are talking, and Deadpool has conversations with them.
  • Scooby-Doo: Scooby-Doo does this throughout his comic book career from the earliest period (Dec. 1969) up to around the time Marvel assumed the Hanna-Barbera line. At that point, he was given regular word balloons with the speech impediment prevalent on his TV series.
  • Tintin: Snowy does this using ordinary speech bubbles, though it's clear that Tintin and other humans can't hear them.

    Comic Strips 
  • Big Nate has Sherman, Nate's classroom hamster who manages to be one of the biggest Deadpan Snarker in the series despite his lack of actual voice.
  • Bizarro has a man and his cat discussing how Jon always seems to know what Garfield is saying despite Garfield's dialogue being in thought bubbles, seemingly unaware that the cat is also "speaking" this way.
  • Snoopy and his relatives from Peanuts. Snoopy's friend Woodstock doesn't do this, but appears able to hear Snoopy's thought bubbles. Unlike Garfield, this has never been translated to the cartoons, where he becomes The Speechless.
  • The animals from Garfield, apart from Odie. Garfield and Friends keeps with this by not having the animal character's mouths move when they talk; in one episode, Garfield breaks the fourth wall and explains that there's a special microphone that can capture what the animals are thinking.
  • The animal cast of Footrot Flats.
  • In the BBXX Baby Blues book, it reveals that Rick and Jerry's first rule in the series was to not let Zoe communicate through thought bubbles, but broke it in the first comic. In the early comics, instead of words, they use objects (ex: a lollipop) to show what Zoe is thinking. One comic had Zoe remembering what Wanda said to her about locking the door. A few comics feature Wren talking through thought bubbles, but not directly to the viewer. Throughout the series, the "Wren talking through thought bubbles" concept was rarely seen and communication was rarely seen in the series.
  • Boot and other dogs from The Perishers, but not the crabs or insects.
  • In Marvin, this is how babies and animals communicate.
  • Animals in Mother Goose and Grimm use thought bubbles sometimes and Speech Bubbles other times.
  • Max, Biscuit, and Luci in Stone Soup

  • Played with in Stanley Bagshaw and the Short-Sighted Football Trainer:
    Grandma: (thinks) He's a boy of simple pleasures.
    Cat: (thinks) Yes, that's just what I thought.
    Cat: (thinks) Stone me: I'm a mind-reading cat!

    Web Comics 
  • Used in Two Lumps. In fact, in this example, thought bubbles are used for conversation, while internal monologue is handled by Thought Captions.
  • Zane the cat in Kurami communicates like this. The titular infant can understand him; it's unclear whether Ana and Bree can as well.
  • Used by fish in Amazing Superpowers here.
  • Tally-Ho! implies (and has corroboration from Word of God) that the animals do make sounds when they communicate, but the fox claims that a phone wouldn't transmit "dog thoughts." It does anyway.
  • Leif & Thorn: Thorn's cat, Tiernan. Not clear whether this applies to all animals, or just magical/soulbonded ones.
  • Sam in Melonpool is an interesting example in that his speech is always depicted in thought bubbles, but other people can hear and understand him because he communicates telepathically. He can't use telephones, however, as telepathic thoughts can't be recorded.

    Western Animation 
  • The Loud House: All the family pets communicate in picture thought balloons when they agree.