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"Vulcans do not make small talk."
Tuvok, Star Trek: Voyager, "Ex Post Facto"

The Other Wiki defines small talk, or phatic communication, as "conversation for its own sake", versus conversation to transmit useful information. In many societies, it serves as a useful social function, but this guy doesn't enjoy taking part in it.

Maybe he's The Quiet One or the Aloof Ally, maybe he has a laser focus on a single goal, maybe he's completely stressed out, or maybe he's German. Whatever the case, he'd rather talk about something meaningful or nothing at all, than Talk About the Weather. Also commonly comes up with people who have certain mental disorders, Emotionless Girls, Sugar-and-Ice Personality, and, well, anything to do with introversion.

Truth in Television for many people, seeing it as annoyingly repetitive, highly insincere and lacking in anything interesting.

Sister trope of Dispense with the Pleasantries. Compare Being Personal Isn't Professional, which may be one justification, or No Social Skills, which may be another.


Examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • The Night Unfurls: The task-oriented Kyril Sutherland isn't a conversationalist. He dislikes small talk, parties, or wasteful diffidence that have nothing to do with the current task at hand (though he would do it if the task requires him to). In the later parts of the original version, Character Development kicks in as he gets a bit more comfortable doing small talk with his employer Celestine and his retainer Grace after working together with them throughout the story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow, ostensibly because she prefers to remain focused on the job, but actually because getting to know someone is a step towards liking them, making their inevitable death all the more painful. And as she used to be stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, this meant being Forced to Watch their death over and over. This makes her a Foil to William Cage who as a former PR man knows the importance of getting to know people, despite the fact that he's now experiencing the same time loop.
  • Anton Chigurh's Establishing Character Moment in No Country for Old Men is several minutes long and leaves several men dead (including some poor deputy), but the time it becomes more tense is when he stops at a gas station to refuel his car and grab some cashews as a snack, and the owner tries to do some small talk, which leads to Anton intimidating him into playing a coin toss game. The man never finds out, but had he lost, Anton would have murdered him right then and there just for the crime of annoying him with said attempt at small talk (and probably because he became the owner by marrying the previous owner's daughter).
  • Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction despises it.
  • Tenet: When Barbara meets the Protagonist, she says they should avoid small talk so they'll know as little as possible about each other for security reasons.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs: Inverted at Marco's dad's (re)marriage, where Ax making awkward, stilted small talk is treated with amusement, because he rehearsed it.
  • Anita Blake repeatedly mentions how little she likes small talk, and how much she appreciates those characters who don't indulge in it either, like Dolph and Edward.
  • One of the reasons the characters Hettar and Eriond get along well in The Belgariad is their mutual lack of need to fill gaps of silence while travelling together with random conversation. They don't hate small talk per se but neither sees the point of it.
  • In Blindsight, an alien civilization cannot comprehend the concept of communication that isn't intended to transmit useful data, They're technically not even sentient, and they assume sentience is a disease and attempt to "contain" it.
  • A Frozen Heart: Prince Hans' father, the King of the Southern Isles, hated idle banter and oftentimes got annoyed at Hans' attempts to make conversation with him, frequently rebuking him for not "getting straight to the point" any time he deemed his youngest son had overstayed too long in his presence and ordered him to get out. It's done deliberately by the king so he can focus on more important things than Hans pointlessly ranting about his brothers bullying him, and so, he contemptuously dismissed Hans as a weakling for not fighting back.
  • Drea from Harmonic Feedback.
    If you don't care, don't ask me how I am. Chances are, I don't care how you are, either. And it's not because I don't respect you or I think you're a loser. I just don't know you well enough to care yet. So, let's pass each other in silence and get on with our lives.
  • Played with in Horatio Hornblower. Hornblower, though shy, is inclined to be chatty to the point he doesn't trust himself to allow himself any unnecessary conversation with his officers. Instead, he maintains a strict reserve and generally confines his remarks to an ambiguous "Ha, h'm," which certainly gives him the reputation for hating small talk.
  • Addie from A Kind of Spark likes the librarian because he never asks boring questions about how her holidays were or how her sisters are doing, he just gets straight to talking about books.
  • One of the many interpretations and theories around Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men is that he despises small talk because it's, essentially, purposeless. In one scene of the book and film, he bullies and almost kills a man for trying to make conversation with him, only stopping because he won a coin toss.
  • RCN: Adlele Mundy has no patience for conversation that does not convey data, and prefers to get her data electronically without any conversation at all.
  • In The Speed of Dark, Lou and his autistic coworkers enjoy each other's company partly because they only have to talk when they have something to say.
  • Aya of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note hates small talk and couldn't do it either. This is the reason for her Friendless Background.
  • Test of Metal contains this exchange:
    His voice faded to a gurgle as the dragon leaned on his chest hard enough to spring a couple of his ribs. "Banter," said Nicol Bolas, "gets on my nerves."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Veronica from Better Off Ted.
    Veronica: How are you?
    Ted: I'm fine. Why?
    Veronica: I was just seeing what small talk might look like.
    Ted: Oh, well, usually, you...
    Veronica: Please stop. I feel like I just pissed away my day.
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. It's not that he hates small talk; it's that his idea of small talk consists of advanced physics theory, comic book and Star Trek canon, and obscure factoids he finds fascinating (even if no one else does). Things such as gossip, sports or personal relationships, he couldn't care less about.
  • In Bones, one of the regularly repeating crew of interns is constantly frustrated by the amount of time the main characters spend discussing their personal lives and dramas, so much so that "Can we talk about the job, please" is basically his catchphrase. Of course, on the rare occasions when he talks about his personal life, everyone else expresses shock at how unprofessional he's being.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Captain Holt hates small talk, but he volunteers himself to greet people at a fake funeral because the squad are looking for a suspect. Played for Laughs.
      Sergeant Jeffords: Excuse me, sir. Are you sure you want to be on the receiving line? You hate small talk.
      Captain Holt: No, I can turn it on when it's called for. The Bachelor is a television show, hmm? Andre Agassi's at it again. I, too, avoid gluten.
    • In the early seasons, Rosa Diaz not only doesn't like small talk, she doesn't like revealing any details about her life whatsoever.
      Rosa: We only have to fill eight minutes.
      Holt: Sure, but think about it as 480 seconds and you'll see why I'm concerned.
      Rosa: Oh, my God.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Both Cersei Lannister and Lyanna Mormont get extremely annoyed at folks who don't get to the point. Lyanna quickly shuts down the admittedly poor attempts at small talk and flattery during her meeting with Sansa and Jon. Even her initial greeting ends so abruptly that it catches her guests unaware.
      Lyanna: I think we've had enough small talk. Why are you here?
    • When being welcomed back to King's Landing by the Queen Regent, Gregor Clegane doesn't bother with chit-chat and plainly asks who he gets to kill this time.
  • Jess from Gilmore Girls hates small talk mostly because he'd rather be in a quiet corner somewhere reading and because everyone in Stars Hollow likes to be in each other's business. This is apparently a negative with some folks, especially Lorelai.
  • Sam Puckett from iCarly, especially when it comes to guys and dating. She'd rather they not talk to her and pay for dinner... or even just give her the money and stay out of her life.
  • Kilgrave in Jessica Jones (2015). He looks like he'd rather pass a kidney stone than try to have a conversation without his powers.
    Kilgrave: I've always been bad at small talk. I'm used to just saying things and they happen. [chuckles] Spoils you.
    Lin: Well, what a burden.
    Kilgrave: You have no idea.
  • Over the years, Judge Judy has had quite a few litigants try to ingratiate themselves to her with bits of friendly conversation, and she's made it clear that this cuts zero ice with her.
    Defendant: [grinning] How are you doing this morning?
    JJ: [curtly] I'm doing fine. Let's get down to business.
  • Mitchell from Modern Family hates making small talk with strangers. In one episode, this is his justification for not attending a wedding with his partner Cam.
  • The "Vocational Guidance Counsellor" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus has this exchange between Palin and Cleese (no prizes for guessing who plays what):
    Counsellor: Ah, Mr. Anchovy! Do sit down.
    Mr. Anchovy: Thank you. Take the weight off the feet, eh? Lovely weather for the time of year, I must say!
    Counsellor: Enough of this gay banter.
  • Detective Murdoch from Murdoch Mysteries is a downplayed example, as he doesn't especially despise it, but he prefers useful conversation or talking about science.
    Brackenreid: So, Murdoch, how's married life treating you? All well at the hotel?
    Murdoch: I'm happy to report that it's an excellent arrangement. No one pays you any particular mind.
    Brackenreid: What do you mean?
    Murdoch: Well, sir, at my boarding house, the other residents... I was constantly being pulled into conversations of limited merit.
    Brackenreid: I can only imagine the difficulty.
    Murdoch: Thank you.
  • NCIS: Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Tony DiNozzo describes him as a "functional mute".
  • Played for Laughs in Parks and Recreation with Manly Man Ron Swanson, who states that he worked with a man with a similar outlook to him for three years and never even learned his name, calling him the best friend he ever had and saying "We still never talk sometimes."
  • From Sabrina the Teenage Witch, when Sabrina meets Aaron's parents:
    Sabrina: Hi, Aaron's told me so much about you.
    Aaron's Dad: Then he obviously didn't tell you I hate small talk.
  • Star Trek:
    • Both Worf and Odo hate small talk. Inevitably this leads to a conversation in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where they make small talk... about how they hate small talk.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard is not a big fan of small talk. In fact, when Data attempts to make small talk with him in "Starship Mine", he directs the android to keep an eye on someone who is notorious for being big on small talk. Data follows that order, and the rest of the crew look in amazement as the resulting conversation rapidly shrinks to microscopic proportions.
      Riker: I have to admit, it has a sort of strange fascination. How long can two people talk about nothing?
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok once remarks that "Vulcans do not make small talk". However, under orders, he does briefly make small talk with a hologram of Leonardo da Vinci in "Concerning Flight".
    • Similarly, in Voyager, when Captain Janeway first activates the Doctor and comments on his lack of personality, he states that he's programmed to perform medicine as efficiently as possible, and small talk would only compromise his performance. Later, however, as part of his growth to exceed his programming, he learns the art of small talk in order to better relate to his patients and tries to teach it to Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone, as well.
    • In the Voyager episode "Someone to Watch Over Me", the Doctor tries to teach Seven of Nine about romance and dating, with this exchange occurring:
      The Doctor: Ah. Tell me about your tastes, your likes and dislikes.
      Seven: I dislike irrelevant conversations.
    • Having been raised by Vulcans, Michael Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery is not at all good with small talk. This becomes a slight problem when she and Ash Tyler (the guy she likes) are at a party together.

    Music 
  • Supertramp's "Casual Conversations".
    In casual conversations and how they bore me,
    Yeah, they go on and on, endlessly.
    No matter what I say, you'll ignore me anyway.
    I might as well talk in my sleep,
    I could weep.
  • The song "Everybody But Me" by Lykke Li covers this pretty well.
  • Imogen Heap's "First Train Home" is allegedly about something like this happening at a party.
  • "Small Talk" by Genesis:
    Going round in circles, hearing too many points of view
    Just words to tire me out, small talk I could do without
    I would be amazed if you returned to see things my way
    Now that you've been disrespectful to my sense of pride
  • Scritti Politti's "Small Talk":
    I heard a whisper
    That careless talk costs more than you bargained for

    Theatre 
  • In The Pajama Game, there's a song called "Small Talk"
    I don't want to talk small talk
    Now that I'm alone with you
    I don't want to talk small talk

    We've got bigger things to do
    Let's not talk of the weather
    Or the fashions for the fall
    Why don't you stop all this small talk?
    I've got something better for your lips to do
    And that takes no talk at all

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragon planeswalker and part-time Big Bad Nicol Bolas from Magic: The Gathering finds banter irritating. Since Bolas's typical ways of expressing said irritation start at "broken ribs" and move up to "complete destruction of your entire family line", it's probably best not to try his patience.

    Video Games 
  • In Bayonetta, the titular protagonist has no time for the constant, winding chatter of the Affably Evil archangels. Her responses to their enigmatic prattle and over-formality is invariably some mixture of innuendo, snark, and/or gunfire.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Sten in Dragon Age: Origins. It's almost expected, considering that he's a Proud Warrior Race Guy.
      Alistair: You know, you can try to talk more.
      Sten: You mean I should remark upon the weather before I cut someone's head off?
      Alistair: Uhh... never mind.
    • Another example, when the player is asking questions...
      Grey Warden: Tell me about the Qunari.
      Sten: No.
      Grey Warden: Well that's not what I expected to hear.
    • Dragon Age II confirms that this applies to Qunari soldiers in general, either out of stoicism or discomfort with a foreign language. They can be extremely eloquent when discussing philosophy but have no concept of talk for its own sake. The Arishok has little to say but "begone" to anyone besides Hawke.
    • Averted, however, with Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition, despite him also being Qunari — possibly because he's a spy/secret policeman rather than a soldier. Far from the taciturn and stoic Sten or the Arishok, Bull would talk under wet cement, leading to him being an endless font of party banter.
  • Eorlund Gray-Mane from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim absolutely loathes small talk, and would rather work his forge and smith weapons than sit around swapping war stories with the other Companions. Should you choose to avoid conversation and immediately ask to buy something from him, he'll be quite grateful. It comes to the fullest when he converses with his family.
    Fralia: When will you be makin' some more jewelry, love? Some silver lockets and amulets would fetch a nice price at the stand.
    Eorlund: Hrm.
    Fralia: Wonderful, dear. Thank you.
    Eorlund: Hrm.
  • In Fairy Fencer F, Ryushin, a fairy with a robot-like appearance and mannerisms, really doesn't see the point of talking unless he has important information to relate and is slow to warm up to Eryn's attempts to get him to talk in the Vile God route in the Advent Dark Force remake.
  • Old Longfellow from the Far Harbor expansion in Fallout 4 is a salty, cranky seadog who is pleasant enough as far as salty, cranky seadogs go, but doesn't care much for chit-chatting. Keep bothering him with unnecessary conversation and it'll actually cause his approval of you to go down.
  • Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII. When badgered by his companions to speak you can visually see his whole body sigh before he stands upright to make as short a statement as possible. He makes prolific use of the "..." Visible Silence and seems to have a ready stock of responses to deter people from making small talk with him.
    Quistis: Talk to me. Tell me what's on your mind.
    Squall: Whatever.
    Quistis: [mocking] Whatever. [laughs]
    [Squall facepalms]
  • Both Rinkah and Beruka from Fire Emblem Fates firmly believe in this trope. In Rinkah's case, it's because of a rule of her tribe, while Beruka is this way due to being an Emotionless Girl.
  • Timur, Ray Bulgarin's buddy/lackey from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, really hates small talk, and considers Luis' insistence in engaging in it with him as a sign of insincerity. He's also a total Jerkass to boot:
    Luis: So?
    Timur: So fucking what?
    Luis: So, what's up with you, bro?
    Timur: Fuck off.
  • Psycho for Hire Bounty Hunter Calo Nord in Knights of the Old Republic despises small talk to the point that he kills anyone who tries to initiate a conversation with him if they don't back off before he finishes counting.
    Player Character: I saw how you mopped up those Black Vulkars. Nice work.
    Calo: One.
    Player Character: I'm not looking for a fight. I just want to talk.
    Calo: Two.
    Player Character: Okay, I see your point. I'll be off then.
    Calo: Smart.
  • Solid Snake mentions in Metal Gear Solid that he and his old partner Gray Fox never spoke about anything personal, preferring to discuss such things as rations and rifle clips. He comments that it was "sort of an unwritten rule".
  • One NPC in Ooblets sometimes says that they hate talking about the weather because it feels like both them and the person they're talking to have failed at being interesting.
  • David King, the plumber in the Resident Evil: Outbreak games. His strong aversion to small talk lessens in his ending in File #2.
  • Mare from RPG Shooter: Starwish initially appears to be The Voiceless, answering all your attempts to strike up a conversation with an ellipsis. When finally starting to talk, Mare still doesn't say much, because "You never said anything important." And yes, those occasions when Mare is willing to talk, is when you bring up important stuff, like 'the continued survival of Life, the Universe and Everything', more or less.
  • Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon added some mild characterization by allowing you to get to know your Force members by speaking to them in headquarters. Zylo the werewolf absolutely abhors this, though, and every conversation with him is either Visible Silence or him (re)stating that his favorite color is black.
  • Shadow from Sonic the Hedgehog. Due to being an aloof and standoffish individual who is always focused on a mission, he isn't a fan of small talk. For example, in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Rouge asks Shadow if he wants to know the object she's holding which is the Scepter of Darkness. Shadow tells her that G.U.N. sent him to rescue her and nothing else. Rouge then comments on how he's always business.

    Visual Novels 
  • Veronica from Daughter for Dessert speaks mainly in a "businesslike" manner when the protagonist first meets her (including when and if she propositions him. The protagonist figures that small talk must not be her thing.

    Webcomics 
  • Used in Weregeek during a LARP. "Cragg hate small talk."
  • Yumi's Cells: Yumi gets the impression that Assistant Manager Shin doesn't talk much because all her attempts to break the Uncomfortable Elevator Moment had led to him responding either tersely or not at all. After quietly observing him on the bus ride home, she remarks that he must be thrilled to go back home, which finally gets him talking for real.

    Web Originals 
  • The Best Page in the Universe: Maddox wishes he could kick people who make small talk in the crotch. Seriously.
  • The awkward, filled-with-this date The Nostalgia Critic has with the The Nostalgia Chick drives him to breaking point.
  • In Volume 1, Chapter 3 of RWBY, Blake Belladonna is clearly agitated when Ruby and Yang attempt to start a conversation with her. Only when Ruby asks Blake about the book she's reading does Blake seem interested in talking to her.
  • Bitch of Worm isn't fond of conversation in general, and particularly dislikes small talk.

    Western Animation 
  • Lemongrab of Adventure Time tends to be like this thanks to his almost total lack of social skills. He prefers sending people to the dungeon without a peep to actually discussing problems.
  • Garnet from Steven Universe normally responds to small talk by glaring silently until they go away.
  • The Venture Bros.: In the episode with the Mr. Alt Disney character Mr. Brisbee, Brock at first tries to get along with Brisbee's bodyguard, but the other is completely silent and rude. Later on, Brock is bored and tries to light a cigarette but can't, at which point the other bodyguard produces a lighter, prompting Brock to say "You're all right." Of course, it's all a trick to knock him out.

    Real Life 
  • "Small talk comes from small bones." ― Ezra Pound
  • This is why introverts are perceived as not being very talkative by so many. They don't like making small talk, but if they're asked about a subject they enjoy talking about, it may be difficult to get them to shut up.
  • Phil Hill, the first American to win a Formula One championship has been described as being uneasy making small talk, but welcoming of a serious discussion on any topic.
  • Steve Wozniak, one of the fathers of the modern computer, also hates small talk, which he has said is part of what made him so interested in computers. If he wasn't so asocial he wouldn't have become so interested in electronics in the first place.
  • The conservative blogger Matt Walsh has mentioned his hatred of small talk in several of his posts and podcasts.
  • In the Finnish language, the closest thing there is to an expression for "small talk" can also be roughly translated to "grinding shit." The implication is that you are moving your mouth, but you are not doing anything useful with it.
  • Hungarian also doesn't have a direct translation, the closest expressions used for it can also mean "chit-chat", "gossip", "tattling" or "empty-talk". Stereotypically done by almost only women: secretaries, government-employees and old ladies.
  • In Mexican Spanish, the closest translation would be the term "alegar". While in all Spanish dialects the term is normally translated as "plead", in the sense of "to present a fact or reason as proof or confirmation of a thing", in Mexico, while retaining the same meaning, it also means "to talk or argue something when one knows beforehand that one is not right or just to talk for the sake of talking, annoying one's counterpart". With some people with old mindsets, this is a potential Berserk Button, especially when the person doing small talk is their junior.
  • The prevalence of small talk does appear to vary with culture. Reportedly, the British find Germans rude for not using small talk, while Germans consider small talk to be dishonest and don't have a native word for the concept in their language.
  • The situation gets very interesting if you visit places outside of your usual area of residence, like old traditional country villages, where you may find people talking about what you would typically perceive as a small talk topic seriously. This is relatively common in the case of discussing the weather, which is in fact very important to growing and cultivating crops.
  • Most countries in East Asia not only do not use small talk, there is outright no word or phrase for it at all as the concept doesn't exist, not even in a derogatory way. Typically, conversation begins with a greeting and then goes straight to the point. This leads to a stereotype of English speakers, a group very fond of small talk, as being nosy and invasive of other people's thoughts.

 
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Irrelevant Conversations

In "Someone to Watch Over Me" from "Star Trek: Voyager," as part of a dating lesson the Doctor asks Seven of Nine what she does in her spare time. She tells him that she regenerates. When he asks about her tastes, her likes and dislikes, she tells him that she dislikes irrelevant conversations.

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