Names that ring a bell: Mute TV characters who communicate with a buzzer

Yahoo Contributor Network

Some of the most iconic characters on TV are the ones who never utter a word. These mute characters have a mystique about them that makes fans utterly adore them and increases their popularity. Whether they use a buzzer, a bell, or something else entirely, these mute TV characters speak volumes without ever uttering a word.

Hector "Tio" Salamanca, "Breaking Bad"

Elderly Tio Salamanca is wheelchair-bound and unable to speak out loud, presumably due to a stroke earlier in his life. Because he is unable to speak, Salamanca opts to communicate with people by tapping a small silver bell that he's affixed to his wheelchair. To say "yes," he taps the bell. For "no," he remains silent. Alternatively, he can spell out the words he wants to say by having someone go through the alphabet and dinging his bell when the person reaches the correct letter.

The bell was used to communicate something beyond simple phrases in the Season 4 finale, when Walt rigged the explosives in Tio's chair to go off when Tio hit the bell repeatedly, killing Gus in a brutal scene.

Earl Malone, "The Riches"

Earl Malone was the head of the Travellers, a group of Irish gypsies. However, due to a stroke, he lost the ability to speak and the ability to walk. He was able to communicate with his family by using a small silver bell like Tio Salamanca's. Sadly, his inability to call out for help is his undoing, as he can't scream when his own son comes to kill him.

Captain Pike, "Star Trek"

In the original "Star Trek" TV series, a badly injured Captain Pike is confined to a special black wheelchair that encases his entire body below the shoulders. Unable to speak out loud, he can only speak through a yellow light on his chair casing. The light blinks and makes a beeping sound: one beep for "yes" and two beeps for "no." That's the limit of his speech capabilities.

The look of this chair is so iconic that it is frequently parodied in modern TV shows. Not surprisingly, Fry and Leela both use a similar chair device in the "Futurama" episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," which featured guest appearances from William Shatner and other "Star Trek" cast members.

Additionally, the "South Park" episode "Pre-School" sees Miss Claridge confined to a similar chair after her accident. When the battery runs down, she can no longer signal "yes" and "no," and the people in town think she's just giving them the silent treatment.

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