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Visible Silence

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Zetta: ...
Alexander: What's with the silent treatment? Ellipses are for chumps — say something!

A character, for whatever reason, doesn't speak. However, it's a matter of importance to emphasize that they aren't speaking. How do you show it?

Simple: use an ellipsis. This is better known as "…", and is usually used to represent either where part of a paragraph/sentence was removed or a break in the thought. Thus, when a character is either mute or choosing not to speak, their dialogue box/speech bubble/subtitle becomes an ellipsis to show that is the case. Sometimes appears as an exclamation mark or question mark, which also imply the silence while carrying a message of their own (and usually with a situation-appropriate shift in facial expression). Often used for a Beat Panel or when a character has nothing to say.

Japanese uses a dedicated Unsound Effect for silence, "shiiin" (シーン or し~ん), encountered frequently in Manga with size and form indicating magnitude, from a light "shi~n" in the corner of a panel to a giant shiiin stamped over a scene. For even more pronounced silence, look for "jiiin".

Another representation uses an extended onomotopia for wind winding through a scene, like "woosh" with many "o"s in English or a chain of "うううう"s (uuuu...) in Japanese.

Occasionally this shows up for added emphasis in animation as a form of Painting the Medium.

Compare Dramatic Ellipsis, Melodramatic Pause, and Sweat Drop. A Silent Protagonist may sometimes speak only in this, and such a character may or may not be The Unintelligible. Compare also Chirping Crickets, if the whole cast of characters is too stunned or embarrassed to speak. Turns up in comics as the word *crickets* in place of a speech bubble.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Azumanga Daioh, for whatever reason, the ellipsis appears behind Mr. Tadakichi, signifying his silence. But Mr. Tadakichi is a dog, and a fairly quiet one, at that, so...?
  • Killy from Blame! has more ellipses in his vocabulary than words.
  • In Death Note, one conversation between Light and Near consists half of intense pauses, which the NPA members think is just freaking weird, causing them to emit the occasional ellipsis of their own. The stand-alone "...!" also puts in an appearance. It's internal monologue, which does at least keep you from wondering how you'd pronounce that.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, when King Kai tells a corny joke and Goku doesn't get it, King Kai's initial response is ellipses in a speech bubble, as he stares in disbelief (and disappointment) at Goku.
  • Excel♡Saga: Daimaru Subiyoshi, the obese Only Sane Man. He has no spoken dialogue — all of his lines are written across the screen, and most of them do end in ellipses. He's also probably the most articulate and vocally eloquent among the cast. He speaks in the manga, though, albeit with a Kansai/English accent.
  • The credits sequence of FLCL is a sequence of still photos following around a scooter, interspersed with some animation of Haruko riding the scooter. When it breaks down she kicks it over. A thought bubble with a vertical ellipse pops up over the scooter before it scoots off on its own.
  • When Ed and Ling from Fullmetal Alchemist are inside Gluttony's stomach, Ed transmutes a giant hole into the sea of blood, and they drop a torch into it to see where it hits the bottom. While they're waiting, and waiting, and waiting, we see an ellipsis over their heads.
  • In the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series, speech bubbles with ellipses appear fairly often; typically they feature much more than three dots, arranged vertically, often in two or three columns. This manga panel shows an example.
  • In an episode of Lucky Star, there is one of these when Konata asks Yui if she remembers her childhood, which the absent-minded adult most certainly does not. Not only that, but after the first four dots appear, Konata starts chorusing them as they appear with a mumbled "Dot, Dot, Dot, Dot!", in what is probably a little lampshading of this trope - Konata is, after all, very Genre Savvy.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke was already a ninja of few words, but when he recruited his own team, he went dead silent for a few chapters while they argued amongst each other. Thankfully, the author was considerate enough to feature a cel of Sasuke saying "..." after every joke and insult, with the same blank look on his face. If he hadn't, we would have never known Sasuke was ignoring them and it would have seemed like he just suddenly disappeared. They seem to have a stock of Sasukes with this, for all the times the manga cuts to him just to have him say nothing.
    • Naruto himself after he learns of Sasuke becoming an international criminal. For a long time his speech bubbles are mostly full of dots as he hears one person after another elaborate to him what kind of person his former friend really is.
  • Zazie Rainyday in Negima! Magister Negi Magi; any time she's on-screen, a bubble of ellipsis appears next to her head to emphasize her quietness. She somehow manages to hold conversations this way. Over the phone, no less.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, where the title character Kenshin witnesses an attack occurring in an alleyway, in his atoning state he does not want to fight, and simply says "...", and is then immediately kicked in the head by Sanosuke who demands "What do you mean, '...'!?"
  • A large ellipsis appears dot by dot in the background in School Rumble while Eri 'connects the dots' regarding Harima and Yakumo. Yakumo is in the tea room, fixing Harima's jacket. Harima often comes by the tea room you say? "..."
  • Yotsuba&! has extended ellipses and question-mark dialog balloons galore. In one conversation, Yotsuba and her father have an exchange of just question-marks, as he wonders what she's wondering about.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, some of the characters are sitting silently in a room next to the one with an important meeting in it. They're having a conversation in written form. One of them holds up a piece of paper with an ellipsis on it, and immediately gets reprimanded with another piece of paper that says "You don't have to write the dramatic pauses!" in Japanese. In the manga, it's the same, with Chu writing "Idiot! Don't waste paper on silence!"

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of Amazing Spider-Man, it is implied that "..." made by Spidey is some kind of an inarticulate sound, as another character asked about it.
  • Batman: Black and White: In "Bent Twigs", a motor-mouthed character is shocked speechless, represented by a speech bubble with nothing in it but a group of radiating lines like the common representation of a balloon popping.
  • In the Exiles comic, Psylocke had just won a battle with a villainous alter-ego, and asked Sabretooth whether he would have killed her if the other one had won. ". . ." She assures him that she's grateful and would do the same for him.

    Fan Works 
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld-themed tale Hear Them Chatter On The Tide, the Disc's Eight Graces convene to discuss strategy in a turf war with the Eight Deadly Sins. One of the Graces is at a disadvantage here.
    ... You can't ignore them any more. What do you think, Silence?

    Oh, sorry. I was forgetting.
  • In Batman: Melody for a Mockingbird, ellipses may as well be Mr. Freeze's Verbal Tic. It's to illustrate a sluggish and detached speech that shows he couldn't care less about socializing. The only times he doesn't talk with them is when he's having "conversations" with his Human Popsicle wife, or shouting in rage.
  • Tantabus Mark II: How the Tantabus Parses Sleep: "Baby Don't Hurt Me": After a lot of awkwardness:
    All that freaking out for nothing. Moondog rubbed the back of her neck and cringed.
    "...I'm new at this, okay?!"
  • In Total Drama: Superstar Showdown, a character named PJ is known to say nothing but "...", making up her whole personality.

  • In William Shakespeare's Sonnet 126, the last two lines of the sonnet consist of empty parentheses. Not necessarily Shakespeare himself, since there are questions whether he had a hand in publishing them. There is a good chance they're just an editor's indication that the sonnet is unfinished.
  • In Speak, the main character says very little for most of the book. Conversations are written a little like dialogue in a play, and the main character's silence is emphasized like this:
    Dad: It's supposed to be soup.
    Dad: It tasted a bit watery, so I kept adding thickener. I put in some corn and peas.
    Dad: Call for pizza. I'll get rid of this.

  • Clutch's Subtle Hustle:
    I cause eclipses with a wave of the hand,
    Let 'em hang in ellipses and do it all again.
  • In the chorus of Richard Hell's song "Blank Generation", he sometimes sings "I belong to the... generation." The official lyric sheet renders this as a Title Drop with, "I belong to the ______ generation."

    Video Games 
  • In The Darkside Detective, "..." is McQueen's response when he's rendered speechless by one of Dooley's leaps of illogic. Also what Dooley says if you try to initiate a conversation with him while he's unconscious.
  • Daxter: At one point, the subtitles will say "..." while Daxter is talking to another character. Said character actually makes a kind of "uhhhh...." sound, but it still counts.
  • in Don't Starve all of Wes's quotes consist of "..." as well as him pantomiming something. Granted, Wes is a mime.
  • In Drakengard, the protagonist, Caim, is rendered mute quite early in the game; although he does have a few visible silence moments, his muteness is usually shown by a completely empty text box. In the sequel, wherein Caim plays a supporting/villain role, he has been "upgraded" to regular visible silence, likely for the benefit of players unaware of his mute condition.
  • Parodied in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, where the main character encounters Altos Tratus, a stereotypical JRPG hero who talks through textboxes that Matt needs to press a big green A button in front of him to get him to continue dialogue. Matt lampshades this, particularly his use of ellipses.
    Matt: An ellipsis? What the hell is that supposed to mean? My god, I have never understood you guys. How much time do players waste in their lifetimes clicking past stupid ellipses? Sigh...
  • The Elder Scrolls: In Oblivion and Skyrim, you can go through the whole Dark Brotherhood quest line without saying anything by selecting (Remain silent).
  • Eternal Senia: Hydrangea After The Rain: Aphinor has "......" as one of the things she says when tapped if she's the character on the Start Screen.
  • In Fallout 3 you can have a conversation with one NPC consisting mostly of him saying "..." and you saying "[Say nothing]" He will comment at the end that you two understand each other perfectly.
  • Final Fantasy and other Squaresoft RPGs often have this, when the characters aren't outright Heroic Mimes. In fact, such a speech bubble is used in combat to indicate the "Mute" status effect.
    • In Final Fantasy V, Krile will simply respond with "..." if the player tries to have Bartz talk to her immediately after Galuf's body vanishes.
    • Tifa from Final Fantasy VII gets ellipses every time she misses an opportunity to talk about crucial plot details. There's even one part (when Cloud is currently comatose) that Tifa says "..." and everyone else turns around as if they heard her say something. Maybe it's meant to indicate she whimpered?
    • There's one point in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates where Meeth and Gnash have a conversation that is made up of ellipses. What the conversation was about could probably be guessed from their facial expressions in the text box.
  • The eponymous Gish has "..." to say to every boss, except the final one.
  • Going Under: Used for beats, such as when the clear plot is to do the opposite of what's being advised, with both sides of the conversation going "...".
  • Speech bubbles to this effect are used in Golden Sun, above all characters heads. There are also a few points in the game when Heroic Mime Isaac (and in the second game Felix) show up in the regular dialog boxes. It's particularly shocking when it does happen, because there are only two or three points in the game where it happens, so you know some really bad stuff is about to go down.
    • For instance, in the first Golden Sun game Isaac's face never appears in a dialogue window except for one jarring and hilarious piece of visible silence: "!!!" So silent he couldn't even 'gasp!'
    • And Isaac's son, Matthew, in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn continues the tradition of visible silence, but he also displays "..?", "...", "...!" and "!?". At one point, Matthew even swears, but it's only shown as "!@&*" and it only appears in the American version.
  • Beyond the Grave of both of the Gungrave games only "speaks" in ellipses, with one and only one exception. Such a Silent Protagonist is Grave, he doesn't even yell or grunt when he attacks or takes damage.
  • Since the comic-book-inspired Immortal Souls uses a combination of static Character Portraits and Speech Bubbles for the dialogue, Visible Silence frequently gets used whenever someone would ordinarily react with a facial expression of some kind.
  • Moments of silence in Iji conversations are frequently accentuated with ellipses. Parodied with the Scrambler, which causes Iji to say "Dot dot dot" when she would normally say nothing (...).
  • Katamari Damacy: Whenever The High King "speaks" in We ♥ Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie, it's presented as "...!!", followed by whatever he's actually saying in parenthesis. This provides a sharp contrast to his son's various Verbal Tics once he grows up into the King of All Cosmos, emphasizing the High King's far more serious and no-nonsense personality.
  • The Quiet Healer monster in Kingdom of Loathing occasionally has attack messages like "..., but misses."
  • Last Word: Sometimes, characters' speech boxes are just an ellipsis, like when Holden McCall is defeated in the final part of the game.
  • LiEat: First game: Levin Bloom has only "..." to say at the beginning of the game.
  • Alex, in Lunar: The Silver Star for the Sega CD, has two lines: visible silence and "LUNA!" He gets more regular dialog in the Updated Re-release for the PlayStation, but still uses this a lot. In the English release of the game, he will utter actual sentences when introducing Luna to Ghaleon. It's a missable piece of dialogue that was not present in the original Japanese.
  • Mega Man Zero features ellipses that had to be scrolled past, with more dots being added for each dialogue box. Later games stuck to the regular three dots.
  • In her penultimate conversation with Adam in Metroid Fusion, Samus alternates between "..............." (long pause), "...?" (confused pause), "...!" (stunned pause) and "...?!". She actually speaks during this conversation, as well.
  • In Mitadake High, players will usually express silence, either when listening to someone else or when they are left speechless with "..."
  • In Mother 3, The Masked Man speaks in ellipses, except in two cases: at the sixth needle, most likely giving commands to his army, as what he said wasn't even written onscreen, and During the final battle, after regaining his memory of being Claus, Lucas's brother, and then suffering mortal damage due to consciously reflecting a highly-powerful lightning bolt he fired off of Lucas's Franklin Badge, apologizing to his family before dying.
  • At one point in Neverwinter Nights 2, namely in Ammon Jerro's Haven, Qara says "..." if you're playing a male character and offer Baalbisan to reveal your private parts to prove this.
  • In Okage: Shadow King, the main character Ari almost has all his dialogue options include a "...". There is even a point in the game where you will be relatively punished if you use that option.
  • Paper Mario:
    • If you visit Luigi as soon as you get to Toad Town in Paper Mario 64 (or at least before you trigger his other scenes), Goombario and Luigi throw ellipses at each other, but Luigi's ellipsis has four dots. In addition, when Merlon and his ancestor tell their stories, much of what they say is ellipses, obscuring any point to the stories. Later in the game, an NPC who suspects Mario of wrongdoing elaborates on this line: "..." "I said, '...'! I don't talk to penguin killers!"
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door:
      • Mario uses an ellipsis during his first conversation with Grubba. Also, TEC's last words have heavy ellipses between each letter.
      • One mouse in Podley's bar always begins conversations with "..." before explaining what it means and why he's saying it. Usually unrequited love.
    • Ridiculous overuse of ellipsis is used for humor many times throughout the Paper Mario series. Like when Don Pianta is awakening from his illness in The Thousand-Year Door.
    • Ellipses are also played for humor in the Mario & Luigi series.
  • A large chunk of Persona 3's script is a barrage of "...", "...." and ".....".
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, you can visit Red atop Mt. Silver. He only says "..." when you talk to him, before and after the battle. Even in his appearance in Pokémon Stadium 2, he only says "...", when something important happens in the battles, even though every other trainer has selected phrases that they say. The tradition continues in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 and Pokémon Sun and Moon, where, once again, he says nothing but "..." The one exception is his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, although he's quite talkative in the anime adaptation.
    • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Platinum, if you refuse to be Professor Rowan's deputy for the Pokédex, he threatens you with unending ellipses until you comply.
    • Rescue Team has two points where the only options are ellipses. First time it's when Gengar publicly exclaims you're the Pokémon from Ninetales legend, which turns out to be a lie and then when you reach Mt. Freeze entrance as fugitives.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Sometimes, characters voluntarily say nothing, leading to a text box of "...", like when the final battle is won.
  • Toona/Raven in Rune Factory 3 responds to nearly everything you or even other NPCs say with "..." for the majority of the game.
  • In a quest in Runescape, you meet a monk who has taken a vow of silence. He says "...". If you then answer "...", he replies "...". If you then again reply with "...", the monk will again say "...". But then another monk nearby suddenly says "Will you stop that noise?!"
  • Sengoku Basara: Every one of Fuuma Kotaro's dialogue boxes consists of ".....", if only to show that he is listening to whoever is talking at the time. Other characters sometimes do this when they're thinking or hiding something.
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge: Shantae often responds with "...".
  • The protagonist in Shining Force III only ever talks in ellipsis, but everyone around him acts like he's actually speaking. Example: White Mage - "What do we do about the refugees?" Protagonist - "......." Knight - "He's right. We have to save them!" This is doubly annoying because Shining Force III was made up of three parts with three different mains characters. In each part the main hero would only ever say "..." but the other heroes would talk. This is also the case in all Shining Force games.
  • A significant amount of Star Ocean: The Second Story is spent waiting for ellipses to appear over characters' heads in cutscenes.
  • Suikoden and Suikoden II uses the ellipses, ranging from 3 to 20 dots — usually to convey how long a piece of information takes to sink into a character, usually followed by a "!!!!!" One character, the aptly nicknamed "Silent Humphrey," speaks almost exclusively this way.
  • It's a surreal enough game as it is, but Superman on the NES has NPCs who will 'say' the expression, "...........!?" to him when talked to. Maybe they're still reeling from shock at seeing the one and only Superman? Except that they say it to Clark Kent, too...
  • In Tales Series, characters just standing silently are accentuated with speech bubbles showing an ellipsis.
    • In Tales of Symphonia everybody, Lloyd especially, does this during dialog. There's one point where you have eight characters, they're all standing around chatting to somebody else, and the someone else says something and all eight of your characters get the "..." above their heads. This Visible Silence happens so much that you can count on every conversation in the game to have at least one, usually more.
    • Volt only communicates in ellipses. Apparently he actually is saying something, though, as the characters register that he's speaking, but nobody (except Raine) can understand what he's saying.
    • In several Tales games, any time a character says nothing and an emoticon showing an ellipsis appears usually means that they know something about any question or statement brought up in the conversation beforehand that they have decided not to tell the rest of the group. Seems especially prevalent in Tales of the Abyss.
  • In a (rather silly) scene from the game Threads of Fate, the main character's only response to the appearance of another character is seventy-six periods, followed by the query, "Am I dreaming?" Seventy-six.
  • Treasure Hunter Man 2: Dorothy says "..." before trying to talk "The Hugest Pig" down from attacking her, which fails, and they fight.
  • Triangle Strategy: Whenever someone says "...", it is said slowly and with a sound effect for each dot.
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: Multiple:
    • A Pictorial Speech-Bubble of "..." comes from Gainer when sneaking into his house and is confused by the lack of servants. The ellipses are presumably to represent him thinking, perplexed about what could have happened.
    • Used by Mort in Nox's sermon on The Quiet One and Terse Talkers, to people that are quiet and Mort's the quietest of all, just saying "..." a lot:
      Nox: I see among us men of the land, men of the earth.
      Pullman: Mhm.
      Olson: Yep.
      Mort: ...
      Nox: You have no doubt been called men of few words, and perhaps you have even been chided for this.
      Nox: However, a tree does not speak, yet it shares its wisdom with us through its roots and trunk and branches—and the many circles of its trunk.
      Pullman: Mhm.
      Olson: Yep.
      Mort: ...
  • Banshee from Warframe, the sound manipulating warframe, has an ability "Silence" whose icon consists simply of an ellipsis. It stuns and deafens enemies close to Banshee, making them oblivious to sounds that would normally alert them.
  • Very often the characters in Wild ARMs have nine, twelve or more dots before they say anything. They make it a bit easier by treating each set of three dots as a separate character.
  • In The Witcher you encounter a man who has taken a vow of silence and only says "..." when clicked. You can choose to reply "...". Or you can get him drunk so he forgets his vow.
  • World of Warcraft: One of the quests you can get in your weekly run of Icecrown Citadel gives you 30 minutes to save an NPC, by killing two bosses. If you run out of time, the second of these will taunt you, and the NPC will yell "..." before dying. Also, if a character is speaking [Zombie], all dialogue is translated as ... ....... ... (except for the word "brains.")

    Visual Novels 
  • In Brass Restoration, there are upwards of six alternating dialogs of two characters conversing in varying lengths of ellipses.
  • All of Shizune's dialogue in Katawa Shoujo is either "…" or "…!" because she's deaf and mute, and serves to indicate that she is signing something, and Misha's following statement is translating it rather than speaking for herself. Until you learn sign language, that is, at which point it's generally rendered in brackets unless Hisao is for some reason unable to understand it.
  • Ren of Kagetsu Tohya and Melty Blood almost exclusively speaks in ellipses. People who speak with her must be telepathic.

    Web Animation 

  • In Adventurers! strip #692, the villains practice conversing in ellipses.
    Khrima: My, aren't we being stoic and mysterious. Good work.
  • Beyond the End: Multiple times, but most prominently with Hal after he returns from Hell, having temporarily gained the ability to talk. When he becomes mute again, he keeps trying to speak, only for it to show as crossed out speech bubbles.
  • City of Trees: When Emil finds Ophidian standing in the hallway of their apartment with a stranger and a bleeding leg, floating ellipses emphasize the shocked silence.
  • Voldemort's Children: An ellipsis appears where Snape has erased some of his own lines from a memory before showing it to Harry.
  • xkcd:
  • In Yokoka's Quest, many characters use ellipses in speech bubbles to indicate silence. Tomo uses a circle of dashed marks to indicate being mute. In both cases, the speech bubbles are still colour-coded according to the language.

    Web Videos 
  • There's a KateModern episode entitled simply "...". The descriptions of "Precious Blood: 5PM" and "Precious Blood: 10:30PM" also each consist of a single ellipsis.

    Real Life 
  • Some chat programs use an ellipsis to indicate that the other person in the conversation is presently typing a response.
  • After the release of Les Misérables, Victor Hugo was wondering how the novel was selling. He contacted his publisher via a telegram that contained a single character: "?" His publisher's response: "!" This is also the world record for the shortest correspondence in history.