[[quoteright:300:[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/talkingheads_twopanel_6101.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:''Calvin and Hobbes'' go meta.]]

->''"It's eighty-seven minutes of a raving talking head -- mine."''
-->-- '''Spalding Gray''' on the film ''Swimming to Cambodia''

Footage (specifically, close shots) of people ... talking, with little or no other action. Theoretically easy to write and definitely cheap to film, Talking Heads can be boring (though usually considered okay in books.)

The term was originally coined in the 70s to describe advertisements shot in this style. Talking Heads has since been used as a criticism for media that relied heavily on dialog.

As American Television and Hollywood became more "cerebral" in the early to mid 90s, the media became noticeably more Talking Heady: Complicated police procedural and legal dramas popular at the time relied on interviews and testimonies, while comedy aped the ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' and Film/PulpFiction style of rambling, slice-of-life dialog.

[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes Bill Watterson]] complained that NewspaperComics are moving in this direction, probably due to a combination of CerebusSyndrome and {{Lazy Artist}}s, though ''he'' blames [[ExecutiveMeddling restrictions]] placed on them by newspapers.

Also notable is UK comedy show ''Series/PeepShow'', the entire premise is based around talking heads (because each shot is from the perspective of another person in the scene).

Of course, the actual [[Series/AlanBennettsTalkingHeads Talking Heads]] by Alan Bennett conforms to this trope, essentially monologues (with one phantom policeman). The band Music/TalkingHeads (fronted by David Byrne), however, does not (although they claim the analogy fits: "All content, no action"). Even their famous concert film, ''Film/StopMakingSense'', is completely free of Talking Heads, a rarity in a genre typically saturated with them. The band is named after the phenomenon, though, with a certain amount of thought put into it (see page for details).

Compare TwoGamersOnACouch. Compare and contrast the TalkShow.

Not to be confused with ''literal'' talking heads. For that, see LosingYourHead.



[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' (especially the manga) falls into this trap every now and then, and it's ''very'' noticable.
* ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion Evangelion]]'' falls into this come episodes [[NoBudget 25]] and [[GainaxEnding 26]].

* Creator/FrankMiller's ''ComicBook/TheDarkKnightStrikesAgain'' has a lot of these. A LOT. Gets to be kind of {{anvilicious}} at times.

* Spalding Gray is the TropeCodifier of film, taking his off-off-Broadway one man shows to film, including ''Swimming To Cambodia'', ''Monster In a Box'', ''Gray's Anatomy'', and the Creator/{{HBO}} special ''Terrors of Pleasure''. In ''Box'', he refers to himself as a "raving talking head".
* Lily Tomlin quickly followed Gray with a film adaptation of her one-woman show ''The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe''.
* The interview scenes in ''Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs'' consist mostly of headshots of Clarice and Lector. However, this serves to add to the drama of the scenes as there is no focus other than the two characters and their emotions. Later on, this technique is used again when Clarice and her friend are discussing the case and Lector's comments.
* ''Film/TheExorcistIII'' predates ''Silence'', and there are almost ''no'' actions scenes. It's a Talking Heads horror film.
* ''Film/TheManFromEarth'' is mostly this.
* ''Film/MyDinnerWithAndre''.
* ''Film/TrueStories'', directed by the frontman of... Music/TalkingHeads.
* A trademark of Creator/WoodyAllen.
* Many documentary films use talking heads for interviews. ''Film/HarlanCountyUSA'' uses a fairly standard talking head format for interviews, but is notable for the fact that the interviews took place during the strike the movie centers around, not after.
* Used for a BaitAndSwitch in ''Film/EuropaReport'' [[spoiler:when an apparent survivor being interviewed after the mission is actually dictating her log before her death.]]
* In the documentary ''Film/HeartsOfDarknessAFilmmakersApocalypse'', which chronicles the TroubledProduction of ''Film/ApocalypseNow'', the making-of footage is intercut with interviews from the cast and crew, shot years later.

* Meta-{{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' with Bob the Skull. [[WordOfGod According to the author]], since his role as MisterExposition would cause just about any scene in which he appears to be Talking Heads, he made him a literal Talking Head.
** Also WordOfGod states his writing instructor specifically said [[TakeThat "Don't make him a Talking Head"]].

* ''Radio/OurMissBrooks'': The radio programs adapted to television are often "talky" episodes. However, visual gags are often thrown into the script (indeed, many are carried over from the radio where they are described, but not shown). The show, humorous on the radio, definitely '''does not''' suffer in the adaptation to television.
* News shows, [[NecessaryWeasel by necessity]].
* ''Series/PeepShow'' does an original take on the cliche thanks to being filmed with a POV camera.
* When Channel Five started as the UK's fifth terrestrial channel, the idea of terrestrial TV had already been rendered obselescent by the advent of satellite and cable. A fifth free-to-view TV station was no longer as exciting as it might have been if there were ''only'' five available channels. Five therefore set about attracting viewers by sensationalism, promising a lot of explicit content. Viewers read this as "free porn". many viewers were not amused when the "porn" turned out to be home-made and imported documentaries about the porn business and its stars. There might be a ten or fifteen second establishing scene demonstrating that porn was in fact happening and showing who and what was involved - and then the visual content would switch to "talking heads" who would talk, at length, about the sociological, economic, moral, health, gender-political, feminist, or other, aspect of the business. Viewers got disillusioned quickly.
* Also true of most documentaries, such as ''Series/ClassicAlbums'', where people will be interviewed.
** The same goes for mockumentaries, like ''Series/TheOfficeUS'' and ''Series/ParksAndRecreation''.

* ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell'' by Creator/MattGroening often has this, with simple full body shots barely differing from each other
* As mentioned, Bill Watterson felt this way about modern newspaper comics, and brought it up once in a strip of ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' that had Calvin telling Hobbes how [[AuthorFilibuster his grandfather feels that modern newspaper comics have just become a bunch of "Xeroxed talking heads"]]. The joke, of course, being that [[LampshadeHanging the particular strip consists entirely of images of Calvin and Hobbes' heads]]. At least Watterson took the time to redraw each panel.
** Charles Schultz previously did a similar gag in ''{{Peanuts}}'', with Charlie Brown dismissing the criticism as "preposterous".

* All one-man shows, such as Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain act, fall under this category.
* ''Theatre/WaitingForGodot'' is the rare example of a ''narrative'' drama employing this.

* Several main characters (and most Enclave soldiers in PoweredArmor) in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 1}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' have animated Talking Heads with lip-synced voice acting for their dialogue window. This is even how the developers referred to them. Other characters simply show their world model and communicate via written text. A few, such as John Cassidy from ''Fallout 2,'' had Talking Heads animated but no voice-acting recorded (mostly due to looming deadlines), and were thus left out. Most can be restored via game mods, but are still silent.
* Most of ''VideoGame/MegaMan10'''s story cutscenes have caught some flack due to being made of still images, scrolling text and little else. It doesn't help that some players think that the game's [[{{Retraux}} presentation]] required [[LazyArtist minimal effort]] to make.

* ''WebComic/EightBitTheater'' gets pretty close to this trope at times, especially towards the end.
* ''Webcomic/ThinkinLincoln'' of course. Emphasis on the 'heads' part.
* Often invoked in ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure'' when Julie is talking with the [[SpiritAdvisor Palm Tree Ghost]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Kind of a given for WebVideo/BecomingYouTube, since it ''is'' part documentary.