Beat Panel

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This parody of Achewood by xkcd sets the record for number of awkward-pause panels in one strip (previously held by Achewood).


Yelling Bird, Questionable Content

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.

Compare Silent Scenery Panel. A Beat is the (un)spoken version.

Examples of Beat Panel include:

Anime and Manga

  • 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: Right...
 (Beat Panel)
 Kaoru: ... ... Ejaculate?
 Kagami: Yes.
 Kaoru: You mean where it ... squirts out?
 Kagami: That's right. Now hurry up.

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 then goes on for multiple panels.
  • There's one early on in the Battle Royale manga, where 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

  • 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 is. Wallace gets his beat panel with a dumbfounded look and a series of ellipses and responds "....".
  • 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."

Newspaper Comics

  • 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.
    • A comic strip by David Lynch was almost entirely made up of beat panels. The same ones. For ten years.
  • 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 & Clyde strip seen here [dead link].

New Media

Video Games

Beat: We ain't treading on thin ice! Shibuya's not cold enough for ice!
Uzuki: .....
Kariya: .....
Neku: .....

Web Comics

And now, by popular demand, Jeremy, the creature nature never intended in his own comic!!!!!!!!

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.
Gil: Well... yes, that goes without saying.

Hot Topic Avenger: The acceptable pause for a punchline has passed, meaning either you're serious or you suck at telling a joke.

Vaarsuvius: I will have you know there is no skill more foundational to the practice of wizardry through the ages than that of the ominous pause.

Violet: A bad, floaty, shooty, tinny thing is being bad upstairs!
(squirrel girls look at each other)
(all four): ♥ ♥ Field test! ♥ ♥