"Chicken Little", also known in English as "Chicken Licken" (USA) or "Henny Penny" (Britain), is a European children's fairy tale from the 1800s. It concerns a foolish young chick who becomes convinced that the sky is falling and sets out to see the local King in order to warn him of this upcoming catastrophe, swaying several other animals along the way to join them in its hysteria.
It has received many, many variations and retellings throughout the centuries.
Tropes common to this story include:
- An Aesop: The story has two:
- Always think through your actions before making a decision, as there are consequences to bullheadedness.
- Don't always follow the masses and make sure you have the facts before making a decision. Herd mentality is a powerful thing that can be easily manipulated, especially when it's born from a position of fear.
- Ambiguous Gender: Chicken Little can be portrayed as either male or female depending on the version of the story you read. The versions that call her "Henny Penny" naturally tend to use a female pronoun, whilst others are more of a 50-50 split.
- Cunning Like a Fox: The traditional bad guy is Foxy Loxy the fox.
- Downer Ending: The usual ending for the story is that Foxy Loxy kills and eats everyone after tricking them into heading somewhere where he can easily pick them off without alerting the others.
- The End Is Nigh: Unlike the usual version of this trope, people believe the doomsayer, yet there's nothing to panic about.
- Lethally Stupid: Most depictions of Chicken Little portray him/her as an idiot who gets all of the other fowl eaten by Foxy Loxy by flying into a panic over nothing.
- Lighter and Softer: There are some versions where everyone makes it out alive.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: What convinces Chicken Little the sky is falling? Why, an acorn dropping out of its tree and landing on his/her head, of course. Or a pea falling on him/her. Or a leaf landing on his/her tail.
- Predators Are Mean: Foxy Loxy is the bad guy because he's a fox, a carnivore that enjoys eating poultry.
- Rhyming Names: All of the characters have some form of rhyme used for their name — Foxy Loxy (or Fox Lox), Ducky Lucky, Turkey Lurkey, Cocky Wocky, Goosey Woosey, etc. Even Chicken Little is sometimes called Chicken Licken or Henny Penny to fit the rhyming convention.