• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Before a commercial, television shows have traditionally done a Fade to Black. Recently, though, television dramas skip the fading and cut the picture to a completely black screen. We've Seen It a Million Times. Typically, a Smash to Black will immediately follow a shocking moment such as a Cliff Hanger, a Commercial Break Cliffhanger, or a Cold Opening, but can also follow a One-Liner or a moment of Deadpan Snark. Expect this to be called "Older Than The DVD" thirty years down the road.

Named for the Smash Cut, of which this is a subtrope.

Examples of Smash to Black include:


Live-Action TV

  • Lost does this with just about every major or minor plot twist. In other words, a lot.
  • Joss Whedon apparently loves this trope: Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse all use Smash to Black instead of Fade to Black. According to Whedon himself, this got him in trouble with Fox, which automatically goes to commercial if there's complete black on the screen for more than one second. Since his Smashes resulted in the system automatically going to commercial, a number of operators and affiliates had to immediately override an emergency commercial that showed up with the proper commercial. Whedon, apparently, remained unapologetic. This is why he is awesome.
    • Joss mentions in the commentary for Firefly that in order to avoid the automatic cuing of the commercial, they changed the color of the blackout, so Smash to Black became Smash to Almost Black But Really Just Very Dark Brown.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this in nearly every episode, complete with a door-slamming sound effect.
  • Infamously, The Sopranos ended the series this way, with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" cutting off mid-word.
  • Everybody Hates Chris ended its series this way as well, mainly as a Shout-Out to The Sopranos.
  • Skins smashes to black so often that the one time they did the fade out (Katie's S4 episode) it stood out (and some people suspected the fade out to be a lengthening device to cover up time lost from cut scenes).
  • Monty Python had one episode in which the actors were discussing how to end the show.
    • "Well, there's the sudden ending." CUT
  • Supernatural does this frequently, as observed on Television Without Pity:



Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons was perhaps the first show to do this consistently. Most act breaks avoided fadeouts, in part because they usually end acts on a gag and it is thought a fadeout would detract from its impact.
    • To combat the automatic commercial problem noted above, most Simpsons episodes have a fadeout artificially added when they air in syndication. This can be problematic since often there is plot or a joke happening up to the very last second of an act, so the fadeout often begins while the action is still occurring.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants shorts end in this manner on a regular basis.

Real Life