Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon

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A lot of cartoons, especially in the classic theatrical shorts era, were made devoid of dialogue. In these cartoons, only music and basic sound effects are used along with the action on screen to convey the concepts and feelings of the show. Sometimes, when more complex things have to be conveyed, it is done via Talking with Signs. The reason, lip sync is tedious, and the jokes used were often adapted from old musical comedy sketches in vaudeville.

This trope is also used in media. Whenever a TV character is watching a cartoon, chances are they'll be watching one of these. Often we never even see the cartoon, just the glow-illumined face of the viewer, and sometimes the side and back of the TV set. If we do get to see the cartoon, it invariably appears to have no plot beyond various characters running back and forth assaulting each other.

For the gaming spins on this, see Pac-Man Fever and Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000. Also compare The Public Domain Channel.

Examples of Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Daft Punk's Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an hour-long Anime. The animation is synchronized entirely to the songs in their Discovery album, which sets the scene and mood and even provides some of the sound effects.
  • The shorts that comprise the anthology movie Robot Carnival are all silent, with the exceptions of "Presence" and "A Tale of Two Robots".


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Literary pseudo-example: the surreal children's book Tuesday. It's completely devoid of text other than times, yet nevertheless manages to convey a story about frogs suddenly being able to fly for one night.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Recently, whenever there's been a television showing something besides the news on CSI, they've used clips from Aqua Teen Hunger Force with the basic array of cartoon sound effects instead of the usual music and dialog. Showed up in an episode of The Sopranos, where AJ is seen slacking and watching the show.
  • Shows up in the MST3K episode "Time Chasers," when Crow visits a young version of Mike at a cheese factory's break room where one worker is watching just such a cartoon. As a bonus, the cartoon's dinky music plays over the show's credits at the end.


Video Games[edit | hide]


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • There She Is! is an entire series of web animations done like this with K-pop.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Most of Homestuck's non-interactive Flash updates qualify. [S] Descend is really the only exception, what with its Squiddles scene.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The entire silent age had cartoons like this. Music was provided by piano players in the theater.
  • One Froggy Evening is just such a musical, no-dialog cartoon. Of course, it does have singing, which might be considered "dialogue" of a sort.
  • Chuck Jones was particularly fond of these; other dialogue-free cartoons of his include the Road Runner/Coyote series (unless you count "beep, beep!" as dialogue), the Bugs Bunny entry Baton Bunny, Much Ado About Nutting, Now Hear This! and High Note.
    • Jones often staged 'dialog' scenes where we couldn't hear the speech (often behind glass) but still knew what was going on - see For Scent-imental Reasons, Two Scent's Worth, Beanstalk Bunny.
  • Disney did a number of these in the 1930s. The Old Mill is particularly noteworthy for its melodramatic depiction of a dark and stormy night.
  • Tom and Jerry cartoons for a very long time had no dialogue, either.

"Don't you believe it!"

    • In an episode of Tom and Jerry Tales we actually see the media version of this trope; Tom is sitting lazily on the couch eating popcorn and watching a generic cat vs mouse cartoon.
  • As an extension, The Simpsons' Show Within a Show Itchy And Scratchy (which is based heavily on Tom and Jerry) also seldom have dialog.
  • All but two of the Pink Panther theatrical shorts from the 1960s and early 1970s were produced in this manner.
  • A modern example is Oggy and the Cockroaches.
  • Pingu. Penguins and seals don't talk, after all.
    • Of course they do. Penguins speak Penguinese, according to the box.
  • Most of the Pixar Shorts. Only "Boundin'", with its rhyming narration, and the shorts spinned off the features, have any dialogue.