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Hollywood Screenwriter Explains Why You Never See Characters End A Phone Call With 'Goodbye'

TikToker and screenwriter Michael Jamin sparked some debate with his reasons for why TV and film characters don't end phone calls like everyone else does.

Screenshots from TV writer Michael Jamin's TikTok video
@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

TV viewers may have noticed characters always scribble down 555 as the first three digits of a phone number, and it's understandable given the designated prefix should be reserved for fictional numbers so as to avoid contacting a real person.

But audiences have been stumped as to why characters in many TV shows and film never end their phone conversations the way we do in real life.

To end the mystery, a Hollywood screenwriter divulged the reason why characters never end their calls by saying, "goodbye."

Michael Jamin–who was a writer and producer on shows like King of the Hill,Wilfred, Beavis & Butthead and Maron–has gone viral for his latest TikTok clip providing insight from behind the scenes.

Jamin said the reason had to do with prioritizing the running time of a given script by trimming excessive lines like, "goodbye," which is a type of dialogue writers refer to as “Shoe leather."

"Shoe leather might make a scene feel more realistic,” explained Jamin.

“But it doesn’t necessarily make the scene more entertaining.”
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Half-hour shows on most networks usually have a running time of 22 minutes to allow for commercial breaks.

Jamin said productions typically shoot for roughly 25 minutes knowing that:

"not every scene is gonna be great."

He added that this allows writers to:

"have the liberty to trim and pace up a bit.”

Jamin continued:

"The first two or three minutes is easy to cut, but that last minute is hard."
"And you're like, 'if I cut that line where the guy says "goodbye," maybe I get to keep my favorite joke."
“Eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re not even writing ‘goodbye’ into the script, knowing from experience that you’re just gonna cut it later.”

Not everyone was convinced this was a valid reason.

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok



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Those who were fascinated weighed in with their thoughts.

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@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok

@michaeljaminwriter/TikTok



Jamin ended his PSA by sarcastically encouraging those who need closure to go to a coffee shop and eavesdrop on phone conversations where they will inevitably hear a person end a call properly.

"Nine times out of ten, a person will end a phone call by saying, 'goodbye,' and you're going to be in heaven."