There's a fair number of silent characters in film, like Edward Scissorhands and Michael Myers. Mutism can happen for all kinds of reasons—they're shy, they're creepy, they're physically unable to speak words, among other reasons.
Silent characters are less common in television, given that it's a lot easier to maintain silence for the length of a film than it is to meaningfully sustain silence for an entire season or series.
Here are some of the best characters in television that don't speak at all—or maybe just a word or two—but still made a huge impact on their respective TV shows.
8. Tom and Jerry (Tom and Jerry)
Tom and Jerry technically started as a series of short films, but we're not too bothered by that. What are TV shows, anyway, if not a series of consecutive short films called "episodes"?
Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse are the two oldest characters on our list, who have been around since February 1940—long before even the hand-drawn comic strip Peanuts came out.
Directed by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, and Rudolf Ising, Tom and Jerry first debuted in Puss Gets the Boot (though neither of them had been given names at the time).
The classic cat-and-mouse rivalry conveys everything without needing any words. That said, Tom and Jerry have occasionally spoken in their many decades on screen—but the fact that it's rare rather than never kind of makes it fun to look out for.
The original Tom and Jerry cartoon run continued until 1958, followed by another run in the 1960s, and again in the early 2000s, plus a few modern-day spin-offs.
7. Beaker (The Muppet Show)
Beaker makes a lot of noise for a character who can't really speak. Not exactly silent, Beaker only has one word in his lexis: "Mee."
Beaker is the Russ Troll-haired assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in Jim Henson's puppet sketch series The Muppet Show, which was created back in 1955 (long before Disney took over in 2004).
Like the seagulls in Finding Nemo, Beaker communicates using a continual stream of "mee-mee-mee" sounds, and he even appears in his own song "The Ballad of Beaker" on YouTube.
The Muppet gang first appeared in Sam and Friends, which then snowballed into a multi-media family burlesque show with a bunch of movies. A handful of the Muppets are of few words—like the guttural shouts that come from Animal—but Beaker is our favorite.
6. Snoopy (Peanuts)
If you've only seen Snoopy in comic strip form, you might be confused about his inclusion here because Snoopy always talks. In fact, he's super smart and very articulate for a dog!
But if you look closely, you'll notice that his words always come in thought bubbles and not speech bubbles. Furthermore, in his television appearances, Snoopy never makes a peep on screen—save for the occasional squeakes and woofs.
Snoopy might be anthropomorphic and he might be an integral part of the Peanuts crew, but he can't verbalize his thoughts.
Still, that hasn't stopped him from becoming a classic character who's recognized around the world! Creator Charles M. Schulz was inspired by his own pet dog, which prompted him to introduce Snoopy as a fun and loyal friend to Charlie Brown.
The two got their own TV series, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, in 1983 following a host of successful television specials (our favorite being 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas).
5. Kenny McCormick (South Park)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker's South Park started as two animated shorts that went viral back in the late 1990s—long before "viral videos" was even coined as a term. From there, a pilot was greenlit.
South Park centers on four boys in Colorado, though you wouldn't guess they were ten-years-old by their dark humor and profane language. Well, from all of them except one: Kenny.
Kenny is an implied stoner of very few words. When he does speak, it's usually to spew curses, which hilariously dodge the censors because they're muffled by his permanently pulled-up hoodie.
There have been over 300 episodes of the satirical animated sitcom—which is still going strong today—and it inspired all kinds of adult-themed cartoons to rise to prominence. Without South Park, we wouldn't have the likes of Rick and Morty or BoJack Horseman.
4. Hodor (Game of Thrones)
Hodor is undoubtedly the most heartbreaking character on this list. He can only speak one thing—the word "Hodor"—which ends up becoming his name. It's a mystery, but we accept it.
From the very first episode, Hodor is introduced to us as a servant of House Stark. In season three, he becomes more important to the plot of Game of Thrones as he carries a paralyzed Bran and protects him on his journey to the North.
Played by Kristian Nairn, Hodor is simpleminded but relentlessly loyal—and when we learn how he got his name, it's one of the most heart-shattering moments in TV history. Who knew so much drama could come from someone who can only say one word?
3. Maggie Simpson (The Simpsons)
The Simpsons is such a great show, one of the first animated series to bring the gap between adult content and kid-friendly content, resulting in a primetime cartoon for the whole family.
Homer might sometimes forget about his one-year-old daughter Maggie, but we never could. She can't talk, but she has a catchphrase like the rest of Springfield: the sound of her pacifier.
The thing is, Maggie Simpson is actually really smart—a rarity in the beer-bloated town. We see this through her telling facial expressions and her arrangement of toys into words.
Her lack of words is often attributed to her age, but even in flashforwards we're never afforded the opportunity to hear what she sounds like. The scene always cuts away just in time.
The only time she does speak is in season four's "Lisa's First Word," which ironically ends with Maggie's first word: "Daddy."
2. Mr. Bean (Mr. Bean)
The original Mr. Bean was a live-action comedy show that aired in 1990. Children could laugh at his silly slapstick gags while parents enjoyed British comedian Rowan Atkinson's adult undertones.
Atkinson used his own experiences with a childhood stutter to embody the immature "child in a man's body" National Gallery guard (though we never see him at work).
Whenever Mr. Bean does speak, it's in a low mumble we can't understand. Atkinson is a master of body comedy, relying on gags and expressions to have us in bits. So good that he got a CBE out of it!
1. Hector Salamanca (Breaking Bad)
Who knew a character could be so infuriating with just a bell?
Hector Salamanca, once a kingpin of the Mexican cartel, is now reduced to a wheelchair and a bellhop. Why? Because Gus Fring switched his pills and gave him a severe heart attack.
The majority of Breaking Bad is made up of revenge plots, but this one was one of the biggest. Annoying as Hector is, you have to hand it to his patience and determination.
Protagonists Walter and Jesse think they can get away with anything in front of this silent oldie, but Hector proves he's still hard as nails even without a voice box, masterfully portrayed by Mark Margolis.