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Games of the Elderly

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"I'm looking forward to this! Because we spent so long building this thing and I know... I know... like, Bingo is the thing that your nan plays on weekends, I get it — it might not seem like the most exciting thing, butbut it's cool that it works in Minecraft and I have kind of twisted and changed the rules a little bit, just to play around with things."
Stampy, Stampy's Lovely World, Episode 629, "BINGO!"

Certain tabletop games are often associated with seniors playing them. It varies a bit on the culture, but common "old-people games" include bingo, poker, bridge, gin rummy, canasta, dominoes (in some European countries), checkers, and mahjong (especially associated with elderly, Jewish, American women).

This might stem from the fact that these games are played sitting down, and some old people are less active than younger people (although why this stereotype doesn't apply to all games played sitting down is anyone's guess). Also, many retirement homes hold games, both for that reason, and because they're easy for everyone to play and it's a good opportunity to socialize.

Elders are often seen going out on the regular to play bingo or poker or whatever with their (usually equally-elderly) friends, and that might take up most of their social life. The "going out" aspect may also be scrapped in the favour of having everyone at a nursing home play one of these games.

Also common in fiction is the plot device of a younger person (often a child or teen) being forced to play a game with their elderly relative or acquaintance, which they'll often find boring or, if they're an Easily Embarrassed Youngster, embarrassing.

Another common gag centring on bingo specifically is that elders consider bingo Serious Business and are incredibly Sore Losers when it comes to it.

Compare Needlework Is for Old People for another stereotype about old people's hobbies and Smart People Play Chess, Dartboard of Hate, and Bad Guys Play Pool for other game stereotypes. If a younger person plays one of these games, it might be considered Incredibly Lame Fun and the younger person might either be The Bore (since old age is associated with being boring) or the The Gambler (as some games like poker are used in gambling).


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  • One televised advert for Pepsi Cola had a shipment of Pepsi meant for a frat house errantly delivered to a retirement home, while the shipment of Coca-Cola meant for the retirees is brought to the frat house. The retirees are shown whooping it up at a beach party, while the frat boys are hunched over bingo boards.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Good Day to You, How About a Game?: Sae is deeply embarrassed about her mahjong hobby, since mahjong is "the thing uncles usually play," as her classmate Saionji put it. However, once Class Princess Chise states she plays it too, the easily-swayed sycophant Saionji immediately flip-flops and praises how open-minded she is.
  • The B-plot of an episode of Samurai Champloo had Jin spend time gambling with an old man at a game of shogi while other old men watched in awe. This meets back up with the A-plot when it turns out Jin's opponent is also the head of a human trafficking ring Mugen and Fu have been having to deal with.

  • Lenny Henry did a frequent routine about the aggression with which elderly Jamaican and Jamaican-British men play dominoes.

    Fan Works 
  • J-WITCH Series: In the Season 1 version of the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Pleasure Cruise", Uncle and Tohru's mother spend most of the cruise competing in various games as per canon, with Uncle's old flame Yan Lin joining them as the friendly counterbalance with whom both of the two Sitcom Arch Nemesises get along with. They start with mahjong since they all are masters of it.note  While Tohru's mother repeatedly beats Uncle as per canon, she admits Yan Lin isn't half-bad in gin rummy, with Yan Lin boasting that no-one can beat her at any card game.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In the cinematic series finale, Mrs. Davis mentions how Mrs. Boynton (Mr. Boynton's mother) "beat my brains out" in canasta. At movie's end, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Boynton finally get Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton married
  • In the movie adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg's grandmother isn't home because it's "Bingo Night".
  • Get Out (2017): Dean Armitage hosts a bingo game in the estate's courtyard after the dinner party. Subverted, as the "bingo game" is actually an auction for who will have their brain transplanted into Chris.
  • In Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel, dressed as the titular character, learns his family and a friend will be going to the same restaurant on the same date he is due to have a meeting with an executive at the studio he works. He attempts to get out of it saying "she" (Mrs Doubtfire) has bingo on that night and it is her turn to pull the balls.
  • My Girl: When Harry and Shelly start dating, Vada begins to develop a grudge against Shelly. One night, Vada follows Harry and Shelly to a bingo game being held at the senior center and brings Thomas J. with her. During the bingo game, Vada shouts "Bingo!" before anyone actually gets a bingo, starting a riot between the contestants.
  • In To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, Laura Jean and John Ambrose are volunteering at a retirement home. One of the activities they're shown to do while working there is to run a bingo game. While doing so they have their own side conversation, causing the seniors to get annoyed with their slow pace and constant chit-chat.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In one book, Greg invites his grandma over to stay, in order to avoid his dad chewing him out. When she leaves to go to bingo, he comes too, and ends up playing with a bunch of seniors.
    • In another book, Greg's grandpa plays gin rummy with the Heffley boys while staying over with them.
  • Dirty Bertie:
    • In one story, Bertie's school holds a bingo, which Bertie considers an old people's game and which his grandmother and Nick's grandmother eagerly go to.
    • In "Horror!", Bertie expresses disgust at his grandmother getting a boyfriend and says that if he had his way, old people would just stay at home and play bingo (and also knit, but that's another matter entirely).
  • In Upright Magic by Vadim Korostylyov, the Fairy of Antique Miracles is obsessed with learning to play dominoes, because she has heard that’s what everyone ought to do in retirement.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Better Call Saul, Jimmy works (and excels) in a retirement home, where his main duty is calling bingo.
  • In S4E13 of Breaking Bad, Walt pays a visit to Hector in his retirement home, where he is sitting near a table of other elders playing bingo. The scene opens with some of the caller's dialogue to establish the tone.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In "Uncertainty Rules," two friends take their introvert buddy out on the town for his 21st birthday. One of the places they visit is a retirement home where they join in on Bingo Night...and win the $25,000 pot.
    • In "The Real McCoy," Adam visits his father, who has Alzheimer's, at his senior care facility and plays dominoes with him.
  • In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "Kamikaze Bingo", Larry visits his father at the senior home and joins in a game of bingo. His social skills and consideration for others being what they are, he accuses the home of Fixing the Game, makes an ass of himself when he wins, and offends some of the other residents to the point that he gets charged by an old man in a wheelchair.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Murder on the Honor Express", D.I. Mooney has started calling bingo games on his days off. He is calling a game to room full of elderly women when Florence arrives to tell him there has been a murder. He says that he needs to finish calling the game or else the old women will riot.
  • Subverted in an episode of Ever Decreasing Circles where the hapless Martin tries to entertain a group of old ladies with a home made bingo machine, only to find they hate bingo (and then the machine goes wrong).
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath" Rachel responds to the proposed baby name "Ruth" with "I'm sorry, are we having an 89-year old?" and "Oh my God, I can practically hear the mahjong tiles."
  • The Haunting Hour: In the "Grampires" two-parter, the vampiric retirement community captures one of the protagonists, Cristen, but rather than have the residents fight over who gets to feed on her, the lead vampire decides to have her as the prize for a bingo game.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily likes to imagine her and Marshall playing bridge with their friends in their old age. However, Lily has no idea how to play bridge, so she makes up the rules in her imagination.
  • Married... with Children: "And Bingo Was Her Game-O", Peg invites Marcy to go to a bingo hall for a weekly game. Naturally there are a few old people there, one of which is an unpleasant old lady that Marcy has to sit next to who snaps at her for even the slightest action (though Marcy gets even when Peg wins via yelling for the woman to shut up when she congratulates Peggy, which the woman had been doing to her through the game).
  • The Middle: In one episode, the Hecks give up TV in order to help pay off their debt. While the children do fine, Mike and Frankie are bored. Their elderly relatives invite them over to play bingo. Mike notes that any other time they'd turn down the offer, but they're desperate for free entertainment, so they take them up on their off. They end up winning a cash prize.
  • In The Mighty Boosh episode "Nanageddon", Vince and Howard try to impress two Goth girls by summoning a demon called Nanatoo, which appears as an elderly woman. When she steals the magic book that can send her away again, Vince and Howard track her down to a bingo hall, where she's blending in with other old folks.
  • ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?: Grandfather Antonio, a Cuban refugee, often goes off to play dominoes with his friends in his Miami neighborhood.
  • The Sam & Cat episode "The Brit Brats" mostly takes place at Nona's retirement home, where Sam has to help her set up a bingo game in order to get a signature on her community service form. Nona wants a good, memorable game, so Sam set it up as "Extreme Bingo", complete with a rap...that made all of the elders leave within minutes. She later sets up a "Slightly Less Extreme Bingo" with a prize of a new, 5,000 dollar TV. Though the TV prize is all to trick the con-artist kids they're watching, the police show up because such a prize was supposedly illegal in a bingo game.
  • In Top Gear, when Jeremy and Richard make a car for old people, they fit a satnav with only four destinations, one of them being the bingo hall.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): In "A Light Supper", the Handler is seen at a bingo game. Every other person there is an elderly retiree.
  • Victorious: This trope is referenced when Jade and Tori act out a skit about an elderly woman who gets mugged while returning home from a game of bingo.
  • Downplayed in Worzel Gummidge. Elderly Mrs. Braithwaite plays bingo, but so does Mr. Peters, who's in his thirties. Mr. Braithwaite doesn't play bingo, but only because he considers it gambling.
  • In Las Vegas, Sam's main concern is making sure the "whales" spend piles of cash inside the Montecito. One episode, however, has her escorting an elderly guest to a bingo hall and revealing that she's a hardcore bingo player (complete with her own collection of good-luck charms) in her spare time.

  • In a Soviet pop song "I Will Wait for You" (the best-known covers are the ones by Maya Kristalinskaya and by Kristina Orbakaite), the main character mentions that the old men of the neighborhood are still playing their dominoes.
  • In the classic song "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris one line reads (the disco remake by Donna Summer adds "Chinese").
    And the old men playing (Chinese) checkers by the trees

  • The Gin Game features two elderly residents at a nursing home who get acquainted over games of gin rummy.

    Video Games 
  • In Cookie Clicker, one can buy the Bingo Center/Research Facility, a science lab run by grandmothers that doubles as their leisure club. The achievement granted for having 100 septillions cookies just from the grandmas is titled "Panic at the Bingo".
  • Portal 2: When discussing a substance that supposedly reduces people's life spans, Cave Johnson comments that 30- to 40-year-olds needn't worry, because the "worst that'll happen" is they'll "miss out on a few rounds of canasta."

    Visual Novels 
  • In Arcade Spirits, Ashley's date involves her and the protagonist going to a nearby hall to play bingo; naturally, everyone else there is at least sixty, and not all are too pleased to see two young people playing around.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • One of uncle Iroh's favorite pastimes is playing a strategy game known as pai-sho. He's later shown to be a member of a secret society whose members all appear to be old men and use the game to identify one another.
    • Monk Gyatso (Avatar Aang's mentor and father figure) was apparently quite an avid player of pai-sho as well, judging from a flashback.
  • In the Arthur episode "Arthur Bounces Back", Arthur's grandma invites him to join her for "a nice long game of canasta". Arthur is not enthusiastic, although that may be mostly because he was visiting to ask for money and she'd refused.
  • One episode of Chowder has Truffles host a mahjong night with some other old ladies.
  • Family Guy: One episode has Joe invite Peter to play bingo with him. The other bingo players are shown to be elderly, with Peter and Joe (two middle-aged men) easily being the youngest people playing.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In "Pleasure Cruise", Uncle and Tohru's mother use the cruise to preoccupy themselves trying to beat each other at various games, even when every life onboard is endangered by robbers and sinking. She beats him many times in mahjong, Chinese checkers and tic-tac-toe. At one point, she challenges him to a round at gin rummy, but he wants shuffleboarding, which he claims to be a game of skill. They end up using shuffleboard pucks to stop two of the robbers from escaping with the Golden Dragon, and the episode ends with them having a well-matched round at arm-wrestling.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Come Sale Away", baby Lily's siblings think they've sold her blanket and go out to look for it. Lucy and Lisa end up at an old woman's house, where she has them play bingo with her. Lucy finds it boring, but Lisa enjoys it.
    • In "Cooked!", Leni adds a bingo game to Lynn Sr.'s restaurant and the only characters seen participating in the game are seniors.
  • At the beginning of the Robot Chicken sketch "Senior Mutant Ninja Turtles", a game of Bingo is played at a retirement center. When the Bingo caller calls "I-16", an elderly Leonardo shouts, "Cowabingo, dude!" and holds up his winning bingo card.
  • In the Rugrats (1991) episode "Lady Luck", Grandpa Lou takes the babies to the senior center for bingo night. When Lou first starts playing bingo, none of his numbers are called, but as soon as the babies find the female manager, whom they believe to be "Lady Luck," Lou's numbers begin to be called, and when she arrives, he gets a bingo.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "The Old Man and the "C" Student", Bart is volunteered to work at the Springfield Retirement Castle, where he finds Grandpa Simpson and the other residents doing things like play bingo and other boring-to-Bart things. Even when Bart tries to get the residents to do more exciting things, he is surprised that they do genuinely enjoy bingo.
    Bart: I don't get it, Grampa. If you guys like all that boring stuff... why did you follow me out here?
    Grampa: Gotta do somethin' till bingo.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy VI: The Motion Picture", SpongeBob and Patrick interrupt Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in the middle of the Shady Shoals Retirement Home's bingo afternoon.
    Mermaidman: BONKO!
    Barnacle Boy: It's "bingo".
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Grandma's Dead", Elmyra's grandmother goes to Penewawa to play Contract Bingo. Near the end of the episode, she wins a hamster in her game of Contract Bingo and gives it to Elmyra to replace the one that had earlier passed away.
  • In the Unikitty! episode "Old Lady Bodyguard", one of the things that Really Old Edith wants to do with Hawkodile after bidding for his services is showing him off to the other old ladies at the bingo parlor. However when they finally get to the bingo parlor, they are immediately confronted by a trio of old ladies who take bingo as Serious Business as they accuse Edith of being the "Biggest Bingo Cheater of All Time", something they prove by revealing that Edith stashes extra bingo cards in her purse. A fight then ensues with Hawkodile being beat up while protecting Edith from the old ladies.
  • In the WordGirl episode "Bonkers for Bingo", Granny May apparently retires from crime and takes up playing bingo, becoming a city bingo champion thanks to a massive streak of luck. It turns out that her "luck" was really as a result of her lucky charm — a magnetic duck, which allowed her to manipulate the metal bingo balls to control which numbers were called.