Why is it that TV or movie characters never say goodbye to someone on the other end of their phone conversation? They just hang up.
—Ryan, Marina del Rey, California

The B!tch Replies: Why include words like goodbye when those precious milliseconds could be filled with an exploding semi, or helicopter chase or scuba-diving cats? Goodbye is a waste. Americans don't want goodbye. We want action! And Carmen Electra! And animals!

Goodbye is just one of those words that has been deemed inefficient by filmmakers. Hello is pretty rare, too, although, annoyingly, Lost is keeping the word hey alive and well. (Do not  take a shot of tequila every time you hear Evangeline Lilly say hey on Lost, or you. Will. Die.)

Why such a lack of civility on TV and in the movies? Like I said: We want action!

Don't take my word for it. Here's input from Josh Olson, a real, live, honest-to-baby-Jesus working screenwriter who even got an Oscar nomination for his work on the Viggo Mortensen movie A History of Violence.

He says, "It's possible that some filmmakers think it slows down the action if characters say things like, hello, goodbye and 'Sorry, I have to commandeer your car for the sake of homeland security'."

Besides, he adds, how come movie and TV characters never close the door when they enter the room?

Story flow, child, story flow. Goodbye sounds natural in real life, but on celluloid, to our sophisticated moviegoing ears, it sounds awkward and unnecessary.

"And amateurish," adds Michele Alexander, a screenwriter and coauthor of the book, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which later became a movie with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey (Alexander and cowriter Jeannie Long have two more 10 Days books coming out in the next week or so. Hudson may wither and die before she can film all these.)

"Every word in your script should mean something and move the story along," Alexander explains.

Right. Plus, if Jack Bauer slowed down long enough to say goodbye to someone on the phone, he would get shot by the Chinese or blown up by the CIA. Every rogue agent worth his cyanide knows that.

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