I am French and we end our phone conversations with the equivalent of a "bye".

I noticed however that in most of the US movies or TV series (especially the police/action ones), the callers just hang up after the last "meaningful" exchange.

A few examples here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APUQeQalRsU

The movie conversations I have in mind are of the typical kind (not "help me!") - for instance the team is synching up on what to do next, or who does what. In such "work-oriented" situations, I would still end a call with a "bye", in normal life.

Is it really customary in the US to end phone calls without saying goodbye?

EDIT: Following some advice from @Tinkeringbell, I will repeat here my last comment about why my question deals with movies:

I live in France and despite having profusely travelled to the US (about 50 times, mostly Illinois, Arizona and California) I think I never saw anyone hang up a phone. So my gateway to such human interactions in the US mostly comes from movies (with the understanding that they are movies, of course). This is similar to someone in Japan who would see on TV French people continuously kissing to say hello and would wonder whether this is the norm (it is). There are not many real documentaries here about people using phones in the US :)


4 Answers 4


I wouldn't put a lot of stock into movies for how things work. The important thing in a movie is to keep the story moving, not to show a realistic portrayal of events.

In movies, for instance:

  • There's always a parking place in the city right in front of the building you want to enter. Yeah... good luck with that.
  • People dying always have a final thing to say, at which point they quickly die. Death doesn't work that way.
  • Cars explode when shot. Mythbusters proved that to be wrong.
  • Cars explode after a collision, when they go off a cliff, or they are on fire. If cars exploded that easily, the government would crack down on car manufacturers - hard.
  • People always have the right thing to say. I, myself, find myself thinking of a witty response hours after the interaction ends.
  • People rarely interrupt one another.

Don't get me going on how firearms work in movies or TV...

At the end of a phone call, we do say good bye. It's weird to just hang up when a call is over. Sometimes we say "thanks" but pretty much every call I am on ends with people saying goodbye.

  • 4
    I understand that movies are not real life (being a fan of Marvel and Harry Potter). This said, it seems that Thanksgiving is indeed about stuffed turkeys in the US (as seen in movies), that you have mostly cars with automatic gears (as seen in movies) and that you use driving licenses to prove your identity (as shown in movies). So the hanging up (as shown in movies) was quite a surprise. But I do get your point and the last sentence of your answer is reassuring :)
    – WoJ
    Nov 23, 2020 at 15:04
  • 5
    It's a completely valid question, but Americans also go to the bathroom regularly, even though that's typically omitted from movies unless relevant to the plot or for comedic effect :) Nov 24, 2020 at 1:36
  • 1
    Hi baldPrussian! Just a gentle reminder: Questions and answers on this site should focus on the interpersonal interaction, not really on discussing all the weird things movies do ;) I've closed the question for now because it was attracting quite a few (duplicate) answers focusing on the movies, which isn't really good for this site. 1/2
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:43
  • 1
    To get this back into shape, it would help if you could edit your answer to get rid of the list of fun movie facts (I liked reading them, but they have to go, sadly) and just state that the movies are wrong, people do say goodbye or thanks depending on the context of the call. 2/2
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:44

In my light, fictional reading I've come across many examples of people hanging up without anybody saying 'goodbye' or whatever.

When I was in the U.S. in the late 1990's, I called my new landlord (in Bowling Green, KY) and as soon as we'd finished discussing the first reason I'd called -- he hung up! I called back but couldn't get a hold of him right away. I now tell people ahead of time how many points I have to talk about.


I suspect it may not necessarily be enough to just specify the United States. This may vary by region even within the US.

I can only recall a handful of times I, or whoever I was talking to, simply hung up with no closing statement, and they all had unique circumstances. Things like the phone's battery dying leading to a follow-up call on a different phone to continue the conversation, or the conversation being more of an argument and one side hangs up in frustration.

In NY, we would probably consider it mildly rude to just abruptly hang up. What if your conversation partner has more to say? It's only fair to give them a chance.

As others have said, hollywood phone conversations are for the viewers, not the characters.


This is a great question and something that has irritated me about TV / Film making for more than a decade. In my opinion, it just ruins the integrity of every scene that they do it in (and they do it in every scene involving a phone call, in every TV show and every Film).

Over many years, I have come to believe that this has evolved as a part of the "this is just how we do it here" toolkit of making TV / Films, and that they somehow believe that the act of saying 'bye' is too mundane, and so by instead just hanging up, they believe that this adds an element of 'things left unsaid', to give a sort of added tension / emotionality to the scene.

However, as we all know, in almost 100% of situations, people do say 'bye' at the end of a phone call, and it would be almost unthinkable not to (the only exception being after a shouting phone argument, where one person hangs up in rage), but in TV/Film, we see people omit the 'bye' even during calm / friendly conversations - not saying 'bye' at the end of such a call is just not true to life. Of course, acting is not real life, but by omitting the 'bye', they just destroy the any pretence of realism that a scene might have had up until that point. In reality, it's just nonsense to omit the 'bye'. Once you've started to notice this, you will never be able to un-notice it happening in all Films and TV, and it always looks ridiculous (to anyone that is observant and cares about details, that is...).

  • Hey YorSubs! It seems you're quite busy 'discussing' how movies treat phone conversations, while this is a site about Interpersonal Skills. As such, both the question and the answers should focus on interpersonal skills and interactions, and not as much on the movies. If I were to edit your post, all that's left is the sentence "However, as we all know, in almost 100% of situations, people do say 'bye' at the end of a phone call, and it would be almost unthinkable not to ", which is a duplicate of the first posted answer. 1/2
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:10
  • As we try to avoid having duplicate answers, it's probably better for this post to either be substantially edited (focus on the interpersonal skills only and not repeat the first answer) or deleted. I am sorry you encountered this post on the HNQ list and realize you just wanted to help out, it was not a good post to be on there as it's definitely one of those questions where the details and talk about movies distracts from the actual topic of the site (the behavior people use to interact well with others). 2/2
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:13
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:35

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