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Gossipy Hens
Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little,
Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more
Alma and Ethel, The Music Man, "Pick-a-Little"

A group of (usually) women whose sole purpose in life seems to be gossiping about other people, since that's all they do whenever they are on screen, and you never hear any mention of what they might be doing when off-screen.

Often used for exposition, since they know the business of everybody in town. They will say mean things about different characters (and each other when they're apart), and if they get bored may come into the foreground and mess with the main characters' lives so that their gossip can be more interesting. They may be responsible for Gossip Evolution. In a Close-Knit Community, they may account for the way everyone knows about everyone else.

Usually almost completely the same in terms of personality, so that their lines are completely interchangeable. The only reason that there's more than one is so they have somebody to talk to. Often they won't be named, or only the leader will be named.

Chances are, if your work is set in Victorian times, these characters will show up. Are often members of a Girl Posse, if the action is set in a high school. Sometimes serve as a Greek Chorus. Compare Those Two Guys and Chatty Hairdresser.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • A few of these appear in Peach Girl.
  • In an outtake of Berserk, Julius calls several handmaidens this...and adds a cluck, for good measure.
    Julius: Gossipy hens. *bukkawk!*
  • In the first scene of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a group of these make fun of Simon, helping to establish that although Kamina is friendly to him and the village chief considers him a hard worker, Simon doesn't really have a lot of incentive to stay in his village.
  • An episode of Paranoia Agent focuses on a group of these. They discuss rumors (and Blatant Lies) involving Li'l Slugger, and at the end of the episode, one of them returns home to discover her husband was the latest victim.
    • ... The victim whose wife is more interested in what happened to him so that she can join in on the gossip with a 'real' example.
  • A small group of neighborhood women tend to gossip about the latest malady to hit the Moroboshi house in Urusei Yatsura.
  • A group of middle-aged women whom the three leads meet in Tokyo Godfathers fit this trope; their gossip helps point our heroes toward the mother of the abandoned baby they'd found.
  • At first, Miki Hosokawa from Hell Teacher Nube. She's still gossipy later, but not as much as she used to. Not to mention she's a bit of a subversion: despite being a gossip hen, Miki does feel bad when she sees one of her neighbors spread downright hurtful rumors that make people upset, and she vows to not reach such extremes. When a ghost tricks her friends into believing she is spreading mean lies as well as the secrets they confided in her, Miki is genuinely hurt at how angry they get at her and, after a brief Heroic BSOD, tries to clear her name. When she's succesful, the ghost tries to kill her and has to be exorcised by Nuubee.
  • Julie and Charlotte from Kaleido Star, before their Character Development.
  • The three women (I can't remember their names) from Victorian Romance Emma.
  • Yoriko Nikaido of You're Under Arrest! is this, to the point of fellow officer Natsumi interceding when she talks about her collegues.
    • She once ends up Bound and Gagged in the OVA when her friends find out that one of her gossip chains is wrong.
  • Mrs. Tachibana and her group of friends from Hot Gimmick. Hence why Hatsumi completely panics when her son Ryoki sees the morning-after pill she had just bought for her sister Akane, and then tells him to do what he wants to her in exchange of keeping the deal secret: being the wife of the landlord, Ryoki's mom can very easily tell Ryoki's dad that Hatsumi's family is not a good influence on the residents, which would lead to Hatsumi's father being laid off and them being evicted and losing everything.
  • In Heat Guy J, there are three prostitutes named Cynthia, Janis, and Vivian, who are up on all the gossip in Judoh, both from their clients and from the other people they encounter. They serve as informants to Daisuke.
  • Hong Kong from Axis Powers Hetalia, according to his newest prfile which lists "gossip" among his interests.
    • Also Seychelles, in volume four. She has a lot of trouble keeping it to herself that a certain royal couple would be spending their honeymoon at her place.
  • Tomoe from Hanasaku Iroha.
    • Also, when a film crew comes to the inn to do some preparations for a shooting, there is a scene where Tomoe, Ohana and Nako sit in a tight circle and gossip about the film crew. When the serious and reserved Minko passes by, all three of them promptly make a calling gesture towards her.
  • Maya from Tantei Gakuen Q's Boarding School case has some traits of this, mixing them with Genki Girl and School Newspaper News Hound. And almost ends up killed by the case's culprit since she has vital information abot his killings. And she doesn't even know it.
  • Minako from Oniisama e..., although she is nicer than the standard. And she plays a very important role in the anime since she tells Nanako about Fukiko's "secret room", which is full of memorabilia of her time with her crush Takehiko; Minako herself is the only person aside of Fukiko who is allowed to set foot on said room, and only to keep it clean and completely unchanged. But before she can tell Nanako more details about it, Fukiko finds out and gets so upset that she gets Minako fired. She openly refers to herself as such when talking to Nanako after being kicked out of her job at the Ichinomiya mansion.

    Comics 
  • One Astro City story is about an alien spy disguised as a human, gathering information on humanity in preparation for a full-scale invasion. He slowly begins to believe humanity is Not So Different from his own species, and is prepared to call off the invasion, but the group of Gossipy Hens he has to live near bug him to the point where he changes his mind and tells his superiors to proceed with the invasion.
  • The classic horror comic "Mister Mystery" gives us a particularly nasty trio in the appropriately titled "The Gossips!". This being a horror comic, the title gossips get a gory Karmic Death at the end.
  • A heavy portion of the young women in Archie Comics, if not all of them. One comic even has them ace a history test after following Betty's Crazy Enough to Work advice to gossip about the historical figures in preparation.
  • Male version : the four old Corsicans sitting on a bench in Astérix in Corsica.

    Fan Works 
  • In X-Men fanfic Mutatis Mutandis by Artemis's Liege there are the male students Xavier's Academy.
    Manuel: One of Jamie's dupes overheard Ms. Munroe telling Ms. Grey, who told Bobby, who told Julio, who told Scott, who told Kurt, who told Shola, who told me.

    Film 
  • The other elephants in Dumbo.
    "Girls, have I got a trunkful of dirt..."
  • The sewing machine with two faces in The Brave Little Toaster.
  • A trio of church ladies in the musical of The Color Purple.
  • The two racist, bourgeois old ladies gossiping on their balconies in Moi et mon Blanc.
  • About 80% of the town from Edward Scissorhands seems to be composed of these.
  • Most of the supporting cast of Do the Right Thing.
  • Elvira suffers at the hands (or should that be tongues?) of these when she is looking for a job.
  • The two quality-control ladies in Extract spend 90% of their shift gossiping, and the other 10% complaining about how no one else is ever doing their job. In fact, it's their willful negligence that causes the horrific accidental Groin Attack that kicks off the plot.
  • An all male example is used in Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring. A group of old farmers hang out in the village, talking about farming and rumors. They turn out to be pivotal to the plot of the two movies, as it is due to their inaction that Jean goes insane, and in the end they are the ones that confess about their knowledge of the spring and the cause of Jean's death to Manon.
  • Sylvia and the manicurist in The Women.
  • The rather unknown Anvilicious So Bad, It's Good Mexican film Me llengua como un plato has a gossip hen as a protagonist.
  • When Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) and Beth (Margaret O'Brian) sneak into Mr. Lawrence's Christmas party in one of Little Women's movies of the book, they overhear some of these making snide comments about Marmee "training" Meg and Jo to be Gold diggers and marry rich guys. Amy is upset to the point of tears and Beth has an Heroic BSOD.
  • In the movie treatment of The Music Man, such a group of townswomen actually cluck like hens.
  • In the Fritz Lang movie Fury, these women's actions inflate the arrest of an innocent traveler into the capture of a child-kidnapper. During the gossip-chain scene, there's even a brief shot of chickens. (Thanks to the gossip, the townspeople storm the jail and set fire to it.)
  • The female villagers in Another Time, Another Place.

    Literature 
  • Petunia Dursley of Harry Potter fame is pretty much one of these without a second to gossip at.
  • A bunch of different characters in Jane Austen novels.
  • In Discworld, Vimes refers to these as "interchangeable Emmas". They also showed up at Susan's boarding school.
    • The less-developed characters among the UU wizards (i.e. the Chair, Lecturer and Wrangler) sometimes act like Gossipy Roosters, as their non-stop nattering, bickering, and reminiscing provides a sort of background accompaniment to whatever practical task Ridcully and Ponder are working on (or whatever the Dean and Bursar are messing up).
  • Gone with the Wind has quite a few of these, with Mrs. Merriwhether, Mrs. Meade and Mrs. Elsing filling the main part of the hens. However, a lot of other characters in the book can be considered gossipy hens as well, including Scarlett and Melanie.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's story "It's Perfectly True" has literal hens, though other animals who hang around the henhouses, including owls and pigeons, play their part in the Gossip Evolution.
  • A group of these gets a character to tell the story of Their Eyes Were Watching God to a friend.
  • Various female characters from L. M. Montgomery; for example, the women at the Ladies' Aid quilting bee in Anne of Ingleside.
  • Agatha Christie's Murder At The Vicarage had three old ladies (the "old pussies") who seemed like this. One of them turned out to be sharper than she looked - her name? Miss Jane Marple.
  • In Brian Aldiss' Non-Stop, Roy encounters a group of Gossipy Hens in Quarters. The fragmented bits of sniping he overhears are part of a breakthrough he has regarding the inward-turned and purposeless nature of his community and his need to go on his Hero's Journey.
  • There's an old (and rather sexist) nursery rhyme about the "gossips of the village" sitting around sipping tea and ignoring everything but their gab session.
  • The above mentioned old ladies that wonder if Meg is a Gold Digger in training in Little Women. It doesn't happen in the Christmas Party, though, but in the Moffat's household; Meg overhears them and manages to pull herself together a bit, but breaks down crying when in bed.
  • The Puritans, especially the women, in the first few chapters of The Scarlet Letter.
  • Pretty much everyone in the small town near to Heidi and her grandpa's cabin. In fact, some adaptations have one tagging along Aunt Dete for a while so she can go Mr. Exposition mode and explain both why is the old man living alone up there and why she's taking Heidi to live with him.
  • The 'nestie bodies' in The House With The Green Shutters, a very rare very vicious all-male example.
  • The society ladies of N____ in Dead Souls, especially those two in chapter #9.
  • In the second part of French novel Reine: my priest and my uncle, main character Reine is attending a ball and overhears a trio of old ladies talking about how Reine's love interest, Paul de Conprat, may be getting engaged to her cousin Blanche. Reine is so shaken that she suffers an Heroic BSOD, which thankfully isn't very serious. Bad thing: the ladies were right.
  • Everybody, regardless of gender, in The Rules of Attraction. And most characters in Less Than Zero. And in Glamorama. Can't forget American Psycho. Anything written by Bret Easton Ellis, really.
  • Miss Stephanie Crawford from To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Although they seem more into bragging, the group in Sewing Circle qualifies.

    Live Action TV 
  • The View. Taken literally on one MADtv sketch.
  • The pepperpots from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Mrs. Beeker and the other block ladies on 7th Heaven, though Mrs. Beeker herself was able to put it away early in season 4...and again in season 5 after Mary was Put on a Bus and the Camdens caught her in the act.
  • Last of the Summer Wine. The format in the late 80s and 90s was essentially that halfway through the episode, the ladies would meet up to discuss the men's latest Zany Scheme, sometimes including Gossip Evolution. The punchline was that they would all drink their tea simultaneously.
    • Drink your coffee!
  • The Evil Duo of Sarah O'Brien and Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey.
  • The Gossip Girls sketches on Hee Haw.
  • Community has Jeff and Shirley being this for an episode
  • The Misses Enid and Eulalia from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and their predecessors, the two Margs from Codco.
  • Taken quite literally in Big Barn Barn: As the theme song says, the Mrs. Chickens "gossip, gossip all day long."
  • Gilmore Girls brings you Miss Patty and Babette. When Luke and Lorelai are in the early stages of their relationship, she wonders how Miss Patty and Babette haven't heard about it yet.
  • Every soap opera has at least one.
  • The main characters of Devious Maids, especially since they work for the Beverly Hills elite.
  • There was an episode of "I Love Lucy" titled "The Gossip."

    Music 
  • Hilariously and mercilessly parodied in the song "La Vieja Julia" ("Old woman Julia") by the Chilean group Los Hijos de Putre. The title is also a Punny Name, since "la vieja Julia" sounds kinda like "la vieja culiá", which is a... very rude slang expression to refer to old women in Chile, alluding to how the narrator hates the old lady named Julia because she meddles in everything, talks shit about everyone and acts double-faced.
  • In the video for Taylor Swift's "White Horse", she learns about her boyfriend's infidelity through her best friend.
    • Two coworkers whisper about her in the cafeteria in the "Ours" music video.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The "posse" in the comic strip Zits.
  • Susanita from Mafalda is a Hen in training. When she's not rambling about the many sons she'll have when she grows up, of course.
    • To make things worse (or funnier), Susanita's House Wife mother is exactly the same way. So much that even Susanita gets embarrassed when she spreads gossip in front of her and her friends.
    'Mrs. Chirusi (talking on the phone when the kids are playing): "Elvira told me all about Mecha and her husband, and I swear that looking back on it's fascina~ting!"
    Kids *stop playing and stare at her*
    Susanita: *looks like she wants to die*
  • Annie from Little Orphan Annie has encountered her fair share of them.

    Theater 
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: Stella and Blanche occasionally fall into this trope. Stanley yells at them one point, "You hens cut out that cackling in there!"
  • The women's committee from The Music Man, as shown in their ensemble song "Pick a Little, Talk a Little." (The Movie interposes footage of actual chickens during this number.)
  • A rare male equivalent to this trope appears in The Merchant of Venice in the form of Solanio and Salarino, who play this role in the service of exposition.
  • The two Celestes from Sunday In The Park With George.
  • A group appears in Under Milk Wood.
  • Most older female characters in Street Scene who aren't Mrs. Maurrant (the subject of most of the gossip), Mrs. Fiorentino and Mrs. Jones in particular.
  • Carla and especially Daniela in In the Heights. To the point where Daniela knows about plot points the very next scene.
  • Britten's Peter Grimes has an entire town of these, and the males are just as bad. They have a tendency to grab pitchforks...
  • The middle school girls in 13, especially during the Gossip Evolution song.
  • The high school girls in Bye Bye Birdie in the song "The Telephone Hour"
  • The women of Our Town, especially Mrs. Soames. Lampshaded by Dr. Gibbs at one point.
  • Older than Television: Cyrano de Bergerac: Roxane lampshades at Act II Scene IV that she never has spoken to Christian, but she knows a lot about him because the Palace Royale is crowded with Gossipy Hens and they informed her that Christian loves her and that he has joined the Gascon Cadets:
    Cyrano: How know you then that he…?
    Roxane: Oh! people talk
    Gossip's chat
    Has let me know...
  • The characters of George S. Kaufman's comedy sketch "If Men Played Cards As Women Do."

    Video Games 
  • There are two old women who, along with a daughter, do this in Shadow Of Destiny.
  • Coco in Riviera: The Promised Land has dialogue consisting almost entirely of gossip about Fia and Lina. One of the voiced dramas features a mixed-gender group gossiping about Malice's parents.
  • The trio of housewives in Harvest Moon: [More] Friends of Mineral Town get together every day just to gossip.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker gives us Pompie and Vera, who seem to love gossiping about anything, particularly the local photographer. Also, there are two little girls who carry on in the same manner.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The NPC student body of Dept Heaven Apocrypha tend to act this way at times. Seth, Meria, and Cierra got the worst of it, though...
  • The Gmod Idiot Box parodies this in Episode 5, with the two women in the store and later the one with her cell phone, who it seems the only sound they can make is chicken-clucking noises. They continue to do this even after their "conversation" partner is gone.
  • Lulu Milton from the online game Gardens of Time. Several gold-unlockable scenes are dedicated to her chatting and gossiping about the game's Love Dodecahedron, and she's referred to as "gossipmonger" and the "gossip girl" of the group.

    Western Animation 
  • Patty and Selma from The Simpsons. They are indistinguishable in personality, have identical voices, and exist entirely to say belittling things. Especially if it's about Homer.
    • Indistinguishable in personality except for their love lives...
    • Ditto Reverend Lovejoy's wife Helen. In her first speaking appearance, "Life on the Fast Lane," she introduces herself as, "Helen Lovejoy, the gossipy wife of the minister." She later is hit with Flanderization, as she seems to do nothing but gossip (mostly on Marge)
      • Helen is joined in her hennism by Agnes Skinner, Edna Krabapple, Maude Flanders, and Luann Van Houten when introduced as The Springfield Investorettes. Marge is (temporarily) a member, but ends up more the target of the gossip rather than the instigator.
  • The (literal) hens from the Classic Disney Short Chicken Little.
  • One episode of Family Guy had a parody of The View where they just sat around clucking and one of them laid an egg.
  • The Looney Tunes short "Of Rice and Hen" features a particularly mean-spirited group targeting Miss Prissy.
  • Pops up in the Christmas special The Story Of Santa Claus, with a group of women gossiping outside the toy shop very early in the special.
    Gretchen: You nosy old hens!
  • Private Snafu: This is what Snafu imagines his mother and her bridge partners to be (literally seeing them transform into hens) in "The Home Front".

    Real Life 
  • A historical example: Eustace Chapuys, Imperial ambassador to the court of Henry VIII, went far beyond the requirements of his job to pass on every hint of gossip traveling through the Tudor court, no matter how far-fetched. Even among professional historians he's sometimes referred to as the "King of Gossip", as his letters to Charles V constitute the most extensive and valuable surviving chronicle of a pre-modern English royal court; even historians who criticize Chapuys's bias are forced to admit the value of his observations.
  • Hair salons are like a gossip congregation.
  • High School girls, especially if they're part of a Girl Posse.
    • Not just girls: guys of all ages can also be scaringly gossip happy when they want to.
  • There are numerous WWII era propaganda posters ("Loose lips sink ships!") about how careless gossiping may cause deaths of soldiers because of spies. Almost all the posters depict women.
  • 2Ch Tanuki. Not Always Female (since it's a Visual Kei related community, expect G.I.R.L. to be in full effect as well as the occasional rocker wandering in to defend himself or bash someone else along with the Fan Girls doing it). If you want the latest in Visual Kei gossip, go there - but beware that the level of truth can vary from 100 percent true to absolute Blatant Lies.
  • Pretty much anyone who works in entertainement-related media, specially if they're celebrities and/or reporters commenting on the latest celebrities scandals.


Go-Getter GirlExtraversion TropesHates Being Alone
Girl PosseEnsemblesThe Hecate Sisters
Gossip EvolutionFame and Reputation TropesThe Greatest Story Never Told
Good Girl Gone BadAlways FemaleGraceful Ladies Like Purple
Good with NumbersCharacters as DeviceGrande Dame
The Music ManImageSource/OtherOpera

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