In US movies it often happens that a person talks to someone on the phone and then hangs up after the relevant things are said without any further greeting like "goodbye" or "see you", "talk to you later" or whatever.

Is this normal behavior in the US or is this only in movies to keep dialogues short and simple?

  • 6
    Compulsory link to TV Tropes - TV Telephone Etiquette
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 16:17
  • @Tetsujin Thanks for the link - so yes, it is not the normal behavior in real life?
    – elzell
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:13
  • 3
    No it's not. Talk to you later. hangs phone </joke>
    – Jenayah
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:45
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    @elzell I agree with Jenayah and TV Tropes - it is not normal behavior in the United States to just hang up on people. You are right that this is cut out of movies and TV shows to keep dialog short and simple. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 18:37
  • 2
    It's no longer normal in the US to even talk on a phone in the first place, but back in the day, we never hung up without saying goodbye. It used to be a trope/joke that young teens in love wouldn't know how to say goodbye and hang up, they would just keep saying "ok, you hang up first" over and over to each other. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


In the US, it is customary to begin and end conversations with salutations. This includes in-person, written word and spoken word. "Hello"/"Goodbye", or some variation (i.e. "What's up?!"/"Catch you later!", "Dear John"/"Sincerely", etc...) are standard for all congenial conversations. Hanging up a phone without addressing the other person is seen as rude, or something done in anger, by the majority of US citizens.

That being said, it's not entirely unusual for a superior to hang up on an underling after the necessary info has been obtained. Imagine, for instance, a situation where imminent danger was at hand unless certain information was relayed quickly. Exchanging pleasantries in that situation would be a waste of valuable time, and both parties would understand this. Similarly, there's no time for, "Hey, Jim! How's the wife and kids?", if you were in a business meeting and needed sales figures for a client. In fact, in a situation like that it would even be acceptable for the underling to hang up on a manager.

"Jim, I need those sales figures for XYZ company"

"On it, boss!" click!

  • Agreed. A lot of it is circumstantial. It depends on the situation. If you're on a formal call with someone you know, then salutations before and after are customary, but if the situation is just a quick business or emergency call, then salutations won't necessarily be required. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 18:39

No, it's not normal. This is shortened for movies.

I read somewhere (unfortunately can't find the link again, but will keep trying) that good screenwriting doesn't require you to show everything, only the important parts. The example it gave was if someone got bad news that their mom is in the hospital, there's no need to show them getting the call, putting on a coat, grabbing keys, going to the car, starting the car, showing them arrive, etc. All this wastes time in a screen play. All you really need to show is him getting a call, and then arriving at the hospital. Yes, in real life you would do those things, but in a movie, it just slows things down.

My suspicion it that's what's happening here. The writers don't want to show salutations, since to them that just wastes valuable time that could be used elsewhere, especially if the characters spend a lot of time on the phone. Showing proper salutations would get boring and repetitive.

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