A silent panel in sequential art. Usually the next-to-last panel in a serialized comic strip, since it approximates the comedic pause before a punchline.
Particularly efficient comic artists may copy and paste adjacent panels, since the point of the Beat Panel is usually that the characters are frozen in contemplation. Another variation is to have two beat panels, with just a quizzical change of expression in the second to show a character's confusion (more likely to happen in a four-panel strip than a three-panel strip). It can also be unusually long to indicate a long beat.
- The manga of Azumanga Daioh uses these a lot, often at the end of the comic when the gag is a lack of action. These usually translate to (often hilarious) stretches of awkward silence in the anime. One of the more memorable ones:
Panel 1: Chiyo: Oh, Sakaki, you're here already! It'll be an hour before the others get here!
Panel 2: Sakaki: It's okay... I'll wait outside... with Mr. Tadakichi...
Panels 3 and 4: (The same image of Sakaki, perfectly content, sitting under a tree with Mr. Tadakichi)
- An example of how they translate this: in the anime, during the same scene, the camera stays focused on Sakaki as every other main character walks into Chiyo's house.
- Hentai manga Witchcraft uses this to great comedic effect. Kagami is trying to get Kaoru to relax so she can effectively hypnotize him (Mildly NSFW text):
Kagami: Well, the easiest way is that relaxed state right after ejaculation. All right, ejaculate.
Kaoru: ... ... Ejaculate?
Kaoru: You mean where it ... squirts out?
Kagami: That's right. Now hurry up.
- Fullmetal Alchemist gives you what might be the cutest example ever [dead link].
- Happens in Corsair manga, where the princess of a powerful pirate group finally announces to her family that she intends to wed their Mysterious Past and very pretty strategist, Kanale (or Canale... Or Kanare... take your pick). Cue their right-hand master swordsman, Ayase, who rarely shows any emotion at all, speak the following:
Ayase: I never said I approved (of you choosing Kanale). In fact there's another problem before all this: Kanale already belongs to me.
- ... The silence goes on for multiple panels.
- There's one early on in the Battle Royale manga. Shuya asks Noriko how she can trust him so easily. She says "You didn't peek at my panties." Cue the ellipsis and possibly the only funny moment in the story.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Christopher Priest might well be the Trope Codifier. Quantum and Woody, Black Panther, and pretty much everything else he wrote were rife with beat panels. The impressive thing was that as often as he used them, they never got stale or overdone; he knew exactly when and where to use them.
- The Keith Giffen/J. M. DeMatteis comedy incarnation of Justice League of America used this all the time, sometimes featuring entire Beat Pages.
- J.M. DeMatteis's run on Spectacular Spider-Man featured a beat page - but it wasn't funny, rather it was one of the creepiest pages ever seen in a comic book.
- Used excessively in Invincible, then Lampshaded when the main character gets his comics signed by an artist who comments on his use of copying and pasting panels.
- In the comic Teen Titans, after Beast Boy asked Raven to go with him on a "not-a-date", there was a beat panel before Raven said "Let's go".
- In an Invincible Iron Man issue, Pepper Potts admits to Maria Hill that she slept with Tony. A shocked Maria Hill admit that she also slept with Tony a few days before Potts. Follows a succession of panel with both looking shocked, each at each other, and then each looking down, visibly angry. After that, Hill mutters a simple "Tony Stark. Tony fucking Stark."
- One of the traditions of a super team crossover is having a few B-List (or even major) villains crash the headquarters seeking revenge, then a beat panel as they realize there are quite a few more super heroes than they expected.
- Peter David enjoys regular use of these. The Madrox mini-series contained a number of examples.
- In Scott Pilgrim, Scott asks Wallace what the website for Amazon.ca is. Wallace gets his beat panel with a dumbfounded look and a series of ellipses and responds ".... Amazon.ca".
- Life in Hell occasionally uses these to an extreme. Matt Groening refers to these as "all those Akbar and Jeff strips where they stare at each other." Keep in mind there were often dozens of panels to a page.
- During the Joss Whedon run on Astonishing X Men, the morning after Peter Rasputin and Kitty Pryde finally make love, they meet with Wolverine in the kitchen. Two beat panels follow; one where Wolverine looks at Peter, and one where he looks at Kitty. He then returns to his breakfast, muttering, "'Bout time."
- Pretty much every comic has used this at some point. It's been around since the early days of comics, but it really took off in the 60's and 70's, when a new generation of cartoonists raised on films and television sought to make their comics more cinematic. Doonesbury is often credited with popularizing the beat, and it remains one of the most frequent users of this trope.
- Interestingly, The Far Side occasionally pulled this off in a one-panel strip. The visual was some awkward situation, while the punchline came in the caption.
- Discussed as well as demonstrated in this Barney and Clyde strip seen here [dead link].
- There's a blog devoted to watching for the silent penultimate panel.
- Another final panel beat example from this hacked Sonic the Hedgehog comic (NSFW).
- A vicious parody of beat panels, courtesy of Maddox. This in spite of how, as is noted elsewhere on this page, Garfield rarely ever uses beat panels.
Video Games[edit | hide]
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- In A Moment of Peace there are three entire pages of "Awkward Pause" following Ito's declaration of love.
- Project 0 interestingly enough on page 8 of part 1.1 and page 8 of part 1.2.
- Refined into an art by Achewood except that it usually happens in the final panel to highlight an awkward silence or just something bizarre getting a bewildered reaction. Here is a good example for you to enjoy.
- Adorable Desolation uses the Beat Panel often, two examples are here and here
- Lampshaded in this Ansem Retort strip.
- Bob and George is famous for the third panel pause.
- Especially this strip, which had a three-panel pause.
- This Brawl in the Family comic.
- Cyanide & Happiness uses this, frequently. Very frequently.
- This strip is the most consecutive beat panels in a comic found so far. (If you can't figure it out: Use the horizontal scrollbar.)
- Darths and Droids: Click here for possibly the best beat panel, ever.
- Death to the Extremist uses this constantly. Often taken Up to Eleven with comics like this.
- Dystopia demonstrates Medium's new reflex upgrades.
- Happens rather frequently in Eight Bit Theater. A prime example is here.
- El Goonish Shive uses this when Grace explains the plan to cure Elliot of his problem.
- Also, Tedd and the spilled barrel of exposition, Nanase talking about Ellen with Susan. Grace realizing she had to break her "morphing moratorium", Ellen coming back to Earth and informed of the Elliot's upcoming powers and "Man Engulfs Food" looking at dining Grace.
- Once turned into gag in its own right.
And now, by popular demand, Jeremy, the creature nature never intended in his own comic!!!!!!!!
- Gary: "Oh, I'm terribly sorry! I didn't mean to be rude, it's just I used to think you didn't want to go on a second date with me because I was too geeky." 'beat panel' Nanase: "Yes, it was entirely because I was a lesbian" Gary:"Phew! Well, ain't that a boost for my fragile ego!"
- Flying Man and Friends alternates between having the beat panel at the end of the strip and having it somewhere in the middle.
- Folly and Innovation does this on occasion
- A Game of Fools uses them quite a bit.
- Likewise, Garfield Minus Garfield seems to thrive on the beat panel.
- Girl Genius manages two in a row with different responses. Another one, courtesy of Sleipnir O'Hara.
Vole: De pipple of Mechanicsburg vould not ekcept [shutting down Castle Heterodyne] as proof dot she iz a Heterodyne.
Gil: No, neither would my father.
Vole:...not unless she danced nekked through de ruins vile trying to shoot down de moon, turned all de tourists into monsters--and den built a very dangerous fountain out of sausages.
- Goblins does this sometimes. The best example is probably Minmax here.
- Head Trip doubles up on the beat panels in this strip because, well, as that particular chapter of Breaking Dawn put it, "There Are No Words For This".
- Also, this:
Hot Topic Avenger: The acceptable pause for a punchline has passed, meaning either you're serious or you suck at telling a joke.
- Used in full by Hello Earthling, and regularly too. Perhaps the most abusive example on this trope is here.
- Irregular Webcomic does this very often.
- A recent strip has a News Post in which Morgan-Mar explains that he tried to avoid it (putting the silent panel earlier), but it just wasn't funny.
- Another one does three- and a Lampshade Hanging. The "Shakespeare" strip after that is entirely Beat Panels, possibly going for Overly Long Gag.
- Inverted here, with the 3rd panel the only one with dialog.
- Dare I suggest that here, he's going for an entire beat -strip-?
- Matt Groening's Life in Hell uses these quite a lot, especially in the strips featuring Akbar and Jeff. Here is a typical example.
- Beet Panel.
- Here is a Heroic BSOD version from Megatokyo.
- You don't have to go far to see this version: the very first strip also has a Beat Panel.
- My Middle Name's Adventure has been employing this since the first [dead link] strip.
- The readers of Narbonic refer to this as the "Silent Penultimate Panel". Here's a double example (fourth strip down).
- this is specifically when the next-to-last panel is the one that is the Beat Panel. Done often enough that one of the regular readers of Narbonic Director's Cut maintains a running total.
- Used often in The Optimist,as seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and a double dose here and here.
- In the Order of the Stick prequel book 'On The Origins Of PCs' had a page with eight of these in a row, culminating in an outburst. It fit the situation perfectly.
- There is an absolutely epic final panel beat in strip this Partially Clips strip.
- Nice little parody in Penny Arcade.
- This Yelling Bird strip from Questionable Content. (It makes more sense if you read this first)
- Realfield frequently subverts this by removing the punchline altogether. Trust me, it's funny.
- Sequential Art has its share of beat panels. Like with Kat looking at Art's art and the next comic, this or Iron-Pip, Art and colleague or this, with poor Kat... And now Art and Pip.
- In this Shortpacked strip, when Batman is left without an opportunity to complete his Stealth Hi Bye, he gets two panels to come up with an alternate solution.
- A fancomic called Sonic College did this with three.
- Square Root of Minus Garfield does this here with reference to this page, and comment that Garfield might not use it enough.
- Stickman and Cube does this often, usually when one of the characters does or says something incredibly bone-headed.
- Ruben Bolling's Tom the Dancing Bug mocked this trope mercilessly, with a strip that claimed that "the more silent reaction panels before the punchline, the funnier it is!", demonstrating by showing a strip with one beat panel, two beat panels and 100 beat panels (which was, in fact, hilarious).
- Lots of these in Vexxarr: when a Minionbot finally wraps its mind around some inclinations of the humanity. And again. And this.
- This VG Cats comic has six beat panels. The extended silence is probably a measure of Leo's dimwittedness.
- Used in this comic after the girl had a bit of a Fridge Logic.
- Appears a few times in Harkovast during the more light hearted moments, especially on this page [dead link] where it actually happens twice in succession.
- Butterflies in The Perry Bible Fellowship.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has this. Then a double beat panel. And two more with highly unimpressed Kat. And a triple beat panel (the scene in question justifies this much).
- Here, thanks to the Amazing Super Powers of a Split-Screen Phone Call.
- Lampshaded through the fourth wall in Retail.
- Rusty and Co, in the re-acquaintance of The Princess and White Knight.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has a good one when Monster Adventurers meet "Here There Be Dragons".
- The KAMics Has done this a number of times, sometimes as punchlines or inverted.
- Exterminatus Now has... uh... this (see the previous page for explanation). And a beat panel with punchline silent panel.
- The Extremely Post Modern Adventures of Flint and Hinawa revolves around having two or even three beat panels between the setup and the usually oddball punchline. This is used to the extreme in Comic #6, where the beat just continues right to the end without a punchline.
- This strip of Wapsi Square uses beat panels in a rather creepy way. Pay attention to the light from the window.
- Miscellaneous Error uses a beat panel in an early comic.
- Fans recently used beat panels(and other silent panels) in an innovative way in the arc "Crossover", which involves an attack on a crossword-fans convention. Each of the 18 pages has six square frames, with periodic beat panels, and each beat panel is framed in a thick black outline. As the final page displays, when all the panels are arranged in order, they form a crossword panel, with each beat panel as a black space, and the first letter in each of the other panels is used in the crossword solution.
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff does this all the time in a highly exaggerated manner.
- This webcomic  consists entirely of beat panels in the first comic. But what do you expect from a comic called "The Mind-numbingly Boring Webcomic"? It appears to get better and actually funny in the next actual comic, but who knows how it will proceed.
- A Sex, Drugs, and June Cleaver [dead link] strip uses two consecutive beat panels as the punchline.