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Nosy Neighbor

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Abner! Come quick!

"If you went to your own room at midnight, locked the door, pulled down the blind, and sneezed, Mrs. Lynde would ask you the next day how your cold was!"

A neighbor (usually female) who just cannot keep to herself. Usually a grotesquely stereotyped shrewish gossip — always on the lookout for delicious secrets and rumors about the characters, which is emphasized by showing her peering suspiciously around her curtains at least Once per Episode.

They usually come in two types. The female type (though not always female) is the epitome of niceness, which serves as an excuse for her chronic curiosity — she will show up on the characters' doorstep with a fresh-baked pie while peering inside over their shoulder. Sometimes the only problem with her is that she always shows up at the wrong time — Nosy Neighbors have a tendency to appear and initiate a long chat when there is something in the other room needing the character's attention that they would rather not let others know about.

The second type is closer to the Cranky Neighbor, and generally just wants to be left alone — until the main characters start acting suspiciously and he feels that he needs to protect his interests and verify that they are not doing anything that may disturb their peace. This usually ends with them going further and getting more involved than intended.

Occasionally a horror trope, when this starts to border on serious stalking.

See also Secret Chaser for when there is some huge secret to be kept hidden from this neighbor. If it's not an impromptu pie delivery she's using as her tactic, she may pop over to ask "May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Sally the Witch, Sally's next-door neighbors qualify as a more innocent version of this. They're rather pleasant elders most of the time; it's just that their little neighbor happens to be a Magical Girl and at times they get caught in the middle of her magical mishaps by proxy, or at others they can't help being curious about it.

    Comic Books 
  • Amusingly, Tim Drake was actually Bruce's neighbor and figured out Bruce was Batman without Bruce having a clue until Tim got worried for Bruce's safety.
  • The Haverlin Brothers of Clean Room are an understated and heroic example. After they interrupt Chloe's suicide attempt they take a personal interest in checking in on her and protecting her house when she's away, including challenging intruders in her own kitchen.

    Comic Strips 
  • Pretty much Mary Worth's whole schtick. The Comics Curmudgeon takes it to memetic levels; the whole world is her neighbor, and only her meddling can save it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Attack of the Killer Donuts: Mr. Richards notices John, Michelle, and Howard snooping around Mrs. Scolari's house and starts monitoring them with binoculars. He assumes they're breaking into her house to rob it, and calls the police.
  • 1962 Boys Night Out featured a snoopy religious neighbor who listened to and was shocked by the sexual escapades that were going on next door (well, that she thought were going on).
  • The 'Burbs portrays these characters as the protagonists: Ray Peterson, Art Weingartner, and Mark Rumsfield spend the film snooping on the Klopeks, who just moved into the neighborhood, after a number of passing observations makes the three of them suspect that the Klopeks are actually a family of murderers. They end up being right at the end, and Ray eventually gets the Klopeks arrested for their crimes.
  • Hi in Canyon Passage is a relatively sympathetic example. He regards himself as "an observer of his fellow humans" rather than a snoop, and there is really not much else for an intellectual to do in Jacksonville except people watch. He is peeking through George's shutters when he sees George stealing Mac's gold dust.
  • The Nearys in Close Encounters of the Third Kind have a nosy neighbor living next door to their house, always watching them from her window.
  • In Earth Girls Are Easy, Geena Davis's elderly neighbor uses a parabolic microphone to listen in.
  • Edward Scissorhands: All of the neighbours, who are very curious about Edward.
  • Everything Must Go: Nick Halsey has one, Samantha, who ends up reporting him to the police because he's living on his lawn.
  • In Fear, Inc., Joe's neighbour Bill is the captain of the local neighborhood watch and keeps a close eye on all the comings and goings.
  • From Beyond the Grave: In "The Gatecrasher", Charlton's downstairs neighbour Mr, Jeffries knocks on his door to complain about the red liquid dripping down through his ceiling. He goes on to complain about the large number of young ladies Charlton has been bringing home, and the noise they have been making, and the hammering that has been going on at all hours of the night. Unfortunately for poor Mr. Jeffries the penny does not drop before Charlton uses a knife to rid himself of the problems a nosy neighbour can bring.
  • Miss Thwaites in Gaslight is a very intrusive old lady from across the street.
  • Hard Candy: Judy Tokuda is the only character other than Jeff and Hayley to have any impact - she pops in at one point to ask about Jeff, nearly driving Hayley's carefully calculated plan off the rails.
  • In I Saw What You Did, Amy Nelson is constantly spying on neighbour Steve Marek and looking for any opportunity to worm her way into his affections. When she discovers that he has murdered his wife, she thinks she has found it.
  • Played for Horror in Karen: Karen Drexler, a racist Obnoxious Entitled Housewife, gets more than a little upset at the fact that an African-American couple moved right next door. Installing cameras to keep watch of them 24/7 and interrogating them is just the beginning of a campaign to drive them out of the neighborhood that escalates to attempted murder.
  • In The Mad Magician, Gallico rents the upper floor of the Prentiss' house under guise of Ormond. Unfortunately for him, Alice Prentiss writes murder mysteries and fancies herself as a Mystery Writer Detective. Her snooping brings Ormond's wife Claire onto the scene, causing Gallico to murder her and abandon his refuge at the Prentiss house.
  • In Man in the Attic, Mrs Harley snoops into the comings and goings of her new lodger Slade, and pokes around his rooms, becoming convinced that he is Jack the Ripper.
  • My Favorite Martian: Tim's landlady, Mrs. Lorelei Brown.
  • In Mystery Road, Mary's neighbour is a nosy old man who knows everything that goes on in the street. When Mary's house gets broken into, he refuses to tell Jay anything for fear of reprisals. However, he does nod almost imperceptibly when Jay asks him if the perpetrators were driving a gold Statesman. This is enough for Jay to go on.
  • Hitchcock's Rear Window: L. B. "Jeff" Jeffries spies on his neighbors out of boredom, being stuck in his room with a broken leg. The plot kicks off when he becomes convinced that one neighbor had killed his wife. He's right.
  • Minnie and Roman in Rosemary's Baby inserted themselves into the lives of their much younger neighbors, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse, much to Rosemary's annoyance. As it turns out there's much more to it than that.
  • Safer at Home: Antonio, Jen and Evan's neighbor, hears them screaming at each other and comes over to investigate. Evan tries to hide that he's home by turning off the lights but it doesn't work. A former police officer, Antonio even asks Jen if she is OK and suspecting domestic violence, calls the police.
  • In Stag, one of the main threats of exposure the men face is Victor's neighbour Ben who keeps coming over to investigate the noises coming from Victor's house. Every time, one of the party-goers has to be sent out to divert him. Given the noises include gunshots and an imprisoned stripper kicking out the glass in an upstairs window in an attempt to escape, he is right to be suspicious.
  • Stepfather II: Madeline "Matty" Crimmins, a gossip and mail courier who digs through her neighbor's mail as a hobby. She winds up strangled to death by the killer.
  • That Darn Cat!: Mrs. MacDougall. She uses a hearing aid to eavesdrop on her neighbours, watches them through her window, gossips about what she sees, and goes out late at night to spy on them when something unusual is happening.
  • What Lies Beneath: Claire becomes this due to her genuine concern that the husband across the street has murdered his wife — she heard the woman crying and her vague explanations alluded to an abusive relationship, including outright saying, "I'm afraid that one day I'll just disappear", not seeing the wife for several days, as well as the husband's own vagueness about her absence. It turns out to be a Red Herring.

  • Anne of Green Gables: Mrs. Rachel Lynde, a noted busybody prone to blunt criticism.
  • Gangsta Granny has the granny's neighbor who's always looking through her window.
  • Harry Potter: Petunia Dursley is noted several times to be far too interested in her neighbours' doings.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: Lance starts the series as Jaine's annoying neighbor who doesn't like loud noises coming from her apartment. In the end of This Pen For Hire, his nosiness winds up saving her life when he calls the police on a murderer forcing his way into her apartment to try killing her.
  • Ravensong: Nora was known to be nosy.
  • Report on Probability A: Much of Brian Aldiss's novel is taken up with exhaustive descriptions of three men spying on a house from three of its outbuildings, attempting to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mr. Mary's Wife through the windows.
  • Sense and Sensibility: Sir John and Mrs Jennings are good-natured gossips who take an eager interest in the romantic prospects of any young person who enters their field of vision (Mrs Jennings, it's noted, has two married daughters and is now seeking to marry off the rest of the world). Marianne Dashwood finds this extremely annoying and would give offense if Sir John and Mrs Jennings were capable of being offended. Elinor finds it tiresome, too, but she thinks that the pair's meddling is offset by their genuine kindness and generosity.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: As far as Stephanie Crawford is concerned, she absolutely must know everything. She is a Gossipy Hen too.
  • The Underland Chronicles: Mrs. Cormaci is a well-intentioned and not especially annoying version, but any questions are awkward when you don't have a good explanation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • ALF: Trevor and Raquel Ochmonek, Raquel more so than her husband, to the point where she spends most of her time spying on the neighbors with a looking glass and spreading rumors about them.
  • Alfred Hitchcock parodied his own film Rear Window with the episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called "Mr. Blanchard's Secret", involving a Nosy Neighbor who is convinced her neighbor killed his never-seen wife.
  • Aquí no hay quien viva: Pretty much the entire building would fit, but the most prominent ones are Marisa, Concha and Vicenta, the three elderly women from apartment 1-A.note  They are the anchors of "Radio Patio", where they tell the neighbors about what's going on in the building, have three spyholes on their door, and Marisa at least is known for having quite the sharp ear:
    Bea: [sarcastically] Please say it louder, they didn't hear you in apartment 1-A!
    Marisa: [from two floors below] Yes, we did! Thank you!
  • Justified in The Barrier. Emilia's neighbor Begoña is part of the government's surveillance network, so being far too curious and "just checking on people" when things best kept hidden are going on is her job.
  • Bewitched: Gladys Kravitz is an iconic example, to the point that nosy neighbors are often referred to as "Mrs. Kravitz" types. She was forever spying through her window at the Stephens house across the street, catching glimpses which suggested something very strange was going on over there, but she could never convince her aloof husband, Abner.
  • Norris the shopkeeper in Coronation Street appeared compelled to know everything about everybody and was the Street's resident nosy person and gossip.
  • Desperate Housewives: Nearly every character is a nosy neighbor in one way or another, but Martha Huber of Season 1 fits the description best.
  • In Detectorists, Kate (Lance's daughter) comments that the lights of several neighbouring houses went on when she dropped her keys while trying to open the door. The following day, one of the neighbours remarks to Lance that Kate dropped her keys the previous evening.
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel just won't stay away from the Winslows no matter how much the latter wish him to - and with good reason, considering he is a Walking Disaster Area.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Inverted with Nice Girl Elizabeth who's dragged away from her home by Hyacinth.
  • One sketch Monty Python's Flying Circus has a pair of pepperpots manning a surveillance room that would make MI-5 jealous as they peer into living rooms by telescope and record the length of time their neighbors are at the doctor. And they are being monitored by a hidden camera placed by a different set of neighbors.
  • ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?: Marta, the Peña family's neighbor, likes to drop-in ("Good morning... good afternoon!") unannounced and make trouble, such as passing rumors and troll the more outspoken family members. She also flirts shamelessly with Pepe right in front of his wife Juana.
  • The next-door neighbors in Small Wonder were highly obnoxious versions of this trope, their casual antics often more memorable than any of the main plots, even ones where they were involved. The Dad/Inventor finally up and decided to use the android girl VICI as part of a plot to force these neighbors to move away, once and for all. It didn't work, but it made so much sense to try.
  • Three's Company had Mr. Roeper and, later, Mr. Furley. The former fit the Cranky Neighbor trope much more, however, than the latter, who was actually more laid back.
  • WandaVision: Wanda's neighbor Agnes fits the first type, as she's always poking around in Wanda's life and showing up at her house at suspiciously convenient times. It's because she's actually a witch named Agatha Harkness who wants to know how Wanda created the sitcom Hex in the first place and then steal that power for herself. After Wanda drains Agatha of her power, she traps Agatha inside her own mind and overrides her personality with her sitcom persona of "Agnes the Nosy Neighbor". Keep in mind that this is the same fate that a Westview resident just told Wanda she'd rather die than experience again.
  • You Me Her: Lori and her daughter Ava. They spot Izzy going to Jack and Emma's across the street, which Ava teases him about (she's Jack's student, Lori becomes his boss). Realizing this, they decide to not have Izzy visit them there again in hopes of keeping their relationship with her secret. Before long they instead claim she's Jack's niece, though neither Lori and Ava fall for it. Their nosiness reveals this shortly after. Carmen and Dave prove themselves fairly nosy too, monitoring the goings on after Izzy moves in officially later with Jack and Emma.

  • Kacey Musgraves' "The Trailer Song" is dedicated to telling a nosy neighbor to mind her own business.
  • Tom Waits' "What's He Building?" is (apparently) about a reclusive and eccentric man who is building... something in his basement. It is written from the perspective of that man's neighbor, whose nosiness verges on insane paranoia.
    What's he building in there? We have a right to know.

  • Our Miss Brooks: A variation on the trope appears in the episode "The Party Line". Here, Miss Brooks (and landlady Mrs. Davis) are plagued by "Grace". Grace is a woman on their party line who ties up the line constantly talking to her best friend Bertha. However, she doesn't stop there. Grace and her husband consistently listen in on Miss Brooks' conversation. At the end of the episode, Miss Brooks succeeds in having the party line changed, only to end up sharing a phone with Bertha, who is always talking to Grace. The episode ends with Bertha interrupting Miss Brooks' conversation with Mr. Boynton, and trying to get his phone number! Of interest, Bertha was played by Sandra Gould, who later would go on to be the second Mrs. Kravitz on Series/Bewitched.

    Video Games 
  • A rare playable version in Hello Neighbor, in which you try to break into your neighbor's house to find out his secrets.
  • The Sims 4: The City Living DLC gives Sims the opportunity to live in an apartment complex. Other tenants come over all the time: Sometimes they are bored, sometimes they come over solely because they don't have food at home and ask you if you have some.
  • Several heart events in Stardew Valley involve your player character eavesdropping on the private conversations of the other villagers, or sneaking into their homes, or both. Among other things, you learn about Pierre's "secret stash", and the secret liaisons between Lewis and Marnie.
  • The Lookout role from Town of Salem is a Properly Paranoid version of this. The Lookout can camp a house each night and see whom visits said player, which, given that there are actual killers running amok in the town, is one of the ways to get information on said killers.
  • This is a character type in We Happy Few. They're designed to make life more difficult for any Downers who like to employ stealth.

    Web Animation 
  • Meta Runner: In Season 2, Masa has one in the form of a man in an Expressive Mask who keeps barging into his low-tier apartment asking for money. However, the very end of Season 2 reveals this neighbor to be Dr. Sheridan in disguise.


    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Gumball AND Darwin have a disturbing idol worship of the Robinsons to the point that they'd creep Dennis out.
  • Back at the Barnyard has Mrs. Beady, who quickly becomes aware of the farm animals' antics and frequently attempts to gather evidence to that end. She's basically a more over-the-top Expy of Gladys Kravitz. That said, she did briefly pull an Enemy Mine with Otis when both were captured by a mad botanist.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Mitchell, being a Kid Detective, likes to spy on the Propulsions, Jet especially, so he can gather proof that they are aliens. Sometimes, he even infiltrates Jet's house, like in "Solar System Bake-Off", "Kid-Kart Derby", and "Jet Shrinks the Kids". However, unlike most examples of the trope, he's not a busybody gossip.
  • The Simpsons
    • Helen Lovejoy is rather nosy about the lives of other Springfield families, proudly describing herself as the local gossip-monger.
    • Ned Flanders had his moments of this, believing that he had to correct apparent moral flaws of other people. To give an example, most of the plot of the episode "Dude, Where's My Ranch?" happens because he barges, completely uninvited, into the Simpsons' home while Homer is trying to compose his own holiday song and tries to help (which leads to Homer writing a song about how much he hates Flanders, which leads to it becoming an Ear Worm, which leads to the Simpsons getting fed up with hearing it all day, which leads to the titular plot of going to live to a ranch for a while to get away from it).
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • SpongeBob and Patrick are the first type. They're nice, generous, friendly fellows and all they want to do is include Squidward in their friendship and fun — but Sponge and Pat are obnoxious and foolish, lack tact, and don't adhere to boundaries. At best, SpongeBob and Patrick are nice guys and Squidward likes them — at worst, they're extremely annoying, and Squidward is frustrated by them.
    • Squidward is Type II, though he would never admit it. The plots of several episodes (Bubblestand, Snowball Effect, Club Spongebob, The Camping Episode, Idiot Box, etc.) begin when Squidward is so overcome with frustrated curiosity that he cannot bring himself to keep his nose out of their antics.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "Warrior Queen", a 50-year-old wife is watching Superman and Maxima fight at a construction site. Her husband, newspaper blocking his view, tells her to stop spying on the neighbors.
    Wife: Now they're kissing!
    Husband: Don't get any ideas!
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Barb always bursts into the house unannounced, and when she suspects that the Lunises have a new pet, she's desperate to find out what it is.
  • Wait Till Your Father Gets Home: Ralph Kane, Harry Boyle's Right-Wing Militia Fanatic neighbor, constantly barged into Harry's life to find some way to "help" Harry. Ralph was a bit more proactive in being nosy than the average example, mentioning at one point to Harry that he and his group of fellow-minded neighbors intercepted and read everybody's mail, looking for evidence of Communist infiltration (the series was made in The '70s).

Alternative Title(s): Nosy Neighbour